Editorial: We should stop the stupidity

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia did something smart on Monday — he introduced legislation to stop stupidity.

To be clear, Warner’s bill has no chance. It is unlikely to come up for a Senate vote, much less to be voted into law. But it’s worth discussing because it makes so much sense.

Warner’s bill — officially known as the Stop Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage in the Coming Years or Stop Stupidity Act — would prevent future government shutdowns like the record-setting 35-day shutdown that recently ended.

Warner’s act would keep the government open and operating at existing funding levels with the exception of funding for the White House and Congress should Congress be unable to agree on a funding resolution.

Warner reasoned that his plan would not disrupt federal government services but would give the White House and Congress incentive to negotiate seriously. “Common sense tells me that we wouldn’t be here 35 days into this shutdown if all our staffs were experiencing the same kind of shortfall and economic distress that 800,000 of our fellow federal workers experienced,” Warner said on the Senate floor.

Estimates are the most recent federal government shutdown cost upward of $11 billion, wreaking havoc on the lives of federal workers who became political pawns in a wholly unnecessary debate over a $5.7 billion wall on the border with Mexico. Make no mistake — President Donald Trump deserves the majority of the blame for this shutdown. The wall is his pet project, and he threw a political temper tantrum trying to force its passage. He failed.

But polls showed congressional Democrats fared only slightly better. According to Pew Research, 61 percent of Americans said they disapproved of the way Trump was handling shutdown negotiations, but almost as many — 53 percent — disapproved of how congressional Democrats handled the shutdown.

Warner’s bill isn’t the only legislation attempting to eliminate future shutdowns. Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio also introduced a bill Monday that would continue government funding at current levels if Congress could not agree on a funding resolution. Under Portman’s bill, which has 18 co-sponsors, government funding would decline by 1 percent after 120 days and another 1 percent every 90 days thereafter until a deal is reached.

While Portman’s bill doesn’t include the added incentive of taking away funding for the legislative and executive branches until a deal is reached, it is a sound bill that not only protects federal workers but also keeps lawmakers from getting in their own way.

If Congress can’t see fit to get behind the actual Stop Stupidity Act, here’s hoping they at least see the wisdom in stopping the stupidity of federal shutdowns by approving Portman’s bill or something similar. Federal government shutdowns help no one — not federal workers, not Congress, not the president and certainly not the public.


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