Congresswoman Gwen Graham on Friday sent a North Florida message to Congress: get to work.
The Democrat from Florida’s 2nd District will file a bill next week that she calls the Shutdown Prevention Act to force Congress to stay in session until it passes a federal budget.
When the current budget was set to expire on Wednesday, Congress agreed to a 10-week extension to avoid shutting down the federal government. That stop-gap measure expires Dec. 11. Conservatives want to pulling funding for Planned Parenthood and say they will vote against any budget deal that includes money for the group’s health clinics because some of them provide abortion services.
Graham will propose that within 24 hours of a potential government shutdown any member be allowed to offer a resolution continuing funding government services at current levels for 30 days. The plan also would freeze Congressional travel funds during the 30-day extension, forbid recesses and limit weekends for members of Congress to just two days.
The restrictions would remain in place until an annual budget is passed.
“This bill will force us to get together, sit in a room — no one gets to leave until we do the job we were assigned to do,” said Graham, who added Congress needs to be more like the American people.
“They budget for their lives and they have weekends that are two day weekends, not three or four days, and they can’t just abandon their responsibilities when the going gets tough,” said Graham. “It’s common sense.”
The last government shutdown was in Oct. 2013 when House Republicans tried to strip funding for the Affordable Care Act. Economists say the two-week shutdown cost the economy $24 billion.
Wednesday’s agreement was approved 277 to 151 by a coalition of House Democrats and moderate Republicans. House conservatives are upset by the release of a set of videos purportedly showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue. The group says the videos misrepresent the conversations and denies any illegal activity. Wednesday’s spending bill included federal money for Planned Parenthood.
Contact James Call at firstname.lastname@example.org or @CallTallahassee on Twitter.