Last updated: November 01. 2013 7:15AM - 1511 Views

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“Although Congress continually fails to pass appropriations bills by the Oct. 1 deadline, Americans should not have the threat of a government shutdown hanging over their heads.” (U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio)

You said it, senator. The thing is, Ohio’s junior U.S. senator didn’t say it last week. Portman said it nine months ago, when he and Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana introduced a bill that’s designed to avoid exactly the kind of chaos that the country just endured.

The End Government Shutdowns Act, which has gone nowhere, would create an automatic continuing resolution for any appropriations bill that Congress hasn’t approved by Oct. 1. Government would keep operating at its current levels even if Congress couldn’t agree on how to fund it for the next fiscal year.

In other words, government couldn’t be shut down by political brinkmanship.

Sounds good. There’s a catch, though, and if you know what sequestration is, you know how the catch works.

Under the bill, Congress would have 120 days after Oct. 1 to agree on spending. If it didn’t happen, funding through the continuing resolutions would decrease by 1 percentage point. The appropriations would continue to fall by that amount every 90 days as long as there was no agreement.

We’ve all seen the painful results of the indefensible across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. The spending cuts in the Portman-Tester bill would be a sort of cascading sequestration, where every three months of inaction would result in more spending cuts, and presumably more public scorn and demands for action.

— The (Canton) Repository

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