Congress seeks new ways to prevent shutdowns from happening

As the country recovers from the longest government shutdown in United States history, Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike are saying they don’t want a shutdown to happen again. Some are even pushing legislative proposals aimed at preventing the gears of government from grinding to a halt in the future.

The record-breaking shutdown came to an end last week when President Donald Trump signed a spending bill to temporarily reopen government while congressional negotiators attempt to find a deal on border security. But the government could shut down again as early as mid-February when the stopgap funding bill is set to expire.

It’s not yet clear if lawmakers can come to an agreement to avert a shutdown in a few weeks, but there is bipartisan agreement in Congress that government shutdowns shouldn’t just keep happening. And lawmakers in both the House and Senate are taking the opportunity to push proposals that — if they were ever to be enacted — could stave off future shutdowns or create more incentives for Congress and the White House to steer clear of them.

A series of proposals that rely on stopgap spending bills — with penalties attached

The threat of a shutdown is currently a deterrent that’s supposed to encourage lawmakers to work together to pass needed, annual spending bills on time to fund the federal government.

Some of the proposals that have been introduced in Congress to avert shutdowns would automatically renew funding at existing levels through the implementation of stopgap spending legislation, but would pair that with measures intended to bring lawmakers to the table to still negotiate full-year spending bills even if a stopgap bill went into effect.

For example, Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio has a bill