Bennet, Gardner Aim to Hold Senate Accountable during Government Shutdowns

Introduce Resolution to Force Senators to Stay on the Job until the Shutdown is Resolved

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner today introduced a resolution to put pressure on Congress to avoid or quickly end a government shutdown.

The resolution would establish new procedures in the Senate that would set in motion a constant series of quorum calls and roll call votes until a bill to reopen the government has been signed into law. It would have the effect of keeping senators on or near the Senate floor - forcing them to open the lines of communication and work with one another - until the government is reopened. If a majority of senators fails to show up during the shutdown, the Senate Sergeant at Arms will issue warrants for their arrest.‎

"Washington's habit of turning routine responsibilities into manufactured crises has to end," Bennet said. "This type of political theater is hurting our economy and competitiveness. Coloradans don't shut their communities down because of a disagreement, and the Senate shouldn't be allowed to do so either. These changes would at best motivate Congress into avoiding crisis and getting the work done it was elected to do. At worst, they would force senators to stay on or near the Senate floor and actually communicate with one another until they open the government back up."

"Responsible governing bodies do not shut themselves down over political disputes. Coloradans count on their elected officials to do their jobs, and part of those jobs is ensuring a functioning government," Gardner said. "In the event of a shutdown, this legislation would force Senators to work together to come up with a solution rather than simply marching off to their political corners. I wish we didn't need legislation like this, but I'm happy to support it."

The new standing order would go into effect following a full or partial government shutdown. The process would begin with the Senate convening at 8:00 AM the day following a shutdown and with an immediate quorum call. If a quorum (a majority of senators) is not present, a roll call vote to request the attendance of absent senators would take place. This process would reoccur an hour after a quorum is obtained and would continue to reoccur all the way up until midnight to ensure senators are in the chamber and working toward a solution to reopen the government.

The new procedures would also include consequences for senators who choose to ignore the request for a quorum. If a quorum is not present within 15 minutes of the roll call vote requesting the attendance of absent senators, a motion to compel their attendance would be put to a roll call vote. The Sergeant of Arms would report the names and locations of the Senators who have failed to report to the Senate floor. If the Senate still cannot achieve a quorum at that point, warrants would be issued and the Sergeant at Arms would be required to arrest missing senators.

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