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Senators Ernst, Lankford, Perdue Introduce ‘No Budget, No Vacation Act’ to Ensure Congress Passes Budget

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), along with Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and David Perdue (R-GA), introduced the No Budget, No Vacation Act. This bill would prohibit Senators from traveling during August recess until the budget and appropriations process is completed.

“Hardworking Iowans know that you don’t take a break until the job is done,” said Senator Ernst. “Unfortunately, it seems like the same cannot be said for Congress, who adjourns for a month-long recess at the start of every August, whether or not they have passed a budget. This cycle of continuing resolutions and omnibus spending bills is unacceptable. We cannot continue to allow our debt to skyrocket and our military to suffer because Congress starts smelling jet fumes. Members of Congress should stay in Washington until we have completed one of our most fundamental roles: funding the federal government.”

If both the House and Senate have not approved a budget and all appropriations bills by August 1st, members of Congress would not be able to depart Washington for the August state work period, commonly referred to as “recess.”

“The current budget process has been in place since the 1970s but has only worked four times as it was intended. To avoid yet another massive Omnibus spending bill, we must finish our budget and appropriations work. With a $21 trillion federal debt, Congress must do a better job to eliminate waste and reform the budget process so that we spend taxpayer dollars efficiently and appropriately on behalf of the American people. There is serious and difficult budget work that must be done; we should keep working and negotiating until the task is complete. I am proud to join my colleagues in proposing a range of enforcement incentives that will motivate Congress to push through the gridlock, and actually do its most basic constitutional function of funding the federal government,” said Senator Lankford.

“The primary role of Congress is to responsibly fund the federal government, and for too long this has not happened,” said Senator Perdue. “Congress has only funded the government on time four times in the last 44 years, and the last time was in 1996 – more than 20 years ago. This cannot continue. The American people expect Congress to do its job, and to do it on time. We agree. If Congress doesn’t meet its funding deadlines, it should stay in DC around the clock until the job is done.”

Congress’ dysfunctional budget process by the numbers:

  • $21 trillion: The U.S. is currently $21 trillion in debt.
  • $1 trillion: The U.S. deficits are projected to exceed $1 trillion in coming years
  • $4 billion in waste: Our reliance on continuing resolutions has forced the Department of Defense to ground or underfund dozens of programs and has, for example, resulted in $4 billion in waste for the Navy since 2011.
  • 20 shutdowns: Since 1976, funding battles have shut down the government 20 times, costing billions in retroactive pay and lost economic output.
  • 11 budgets in 20 years: Congress has passed a budget resolution only 11 times in the past 20 years, and has passed all appropriations bills only four times since 1974.
  • 5 Continuing Resolutions: Since 1999, Congress has passed an average of five continuing resolutions per year, creating constant uncertainty for federal agencies, grantees and others who rely on federal funding.

This month, Senator Ernst joined several colleagues in calling on Majority Leader McConnell to keep the Senate open nights, weekends, and through the August state work period to avoid last-minute funding battles. The Senator also suggested this at the most recent Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Reform. In June of last year, Senator Ernst joined a group of her colleagues in sending a letter to Leader McConnell requesting the Senate work through the August state work period. Additionally, that following October, Iowa Senators Ernst and Chuck Grassley called for the Senate to remain in session for the scheduled October state work period to continue working.

Read the full text of the bill here.