Bennet, Gardner Aim to Hold Senate Accountable During Government Shutdowns

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

Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R) today introduced a resolution to pressure Congress to avoid or quickly end a government shutdown.

At the end of this month, the country faces another government funding deadline and the potential for a government shutdown. In the event of a government shutdown, this resolution, if enacted, 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 fail to show up during the shutdown, the Senate Sergeant at Arms will be directed to arrest missing senators. The prospect of missing votes and possible arrest during a government shutdown will serve to keep Senators on or near the Senate floor. ‎

"Washington's habit of turning routine responsibilities into manufactured crises has to end," Bennet said. "With this new Administration, we've seen even greater dysfunction in Washington. A shutdown is looming at the end of the month, and we cannot afford to be unprepared. Coloradans don't shut their communities down because of a disagreement, and the Senate shouldn't be allowed to do so either. This resolution would encourage Congress to avoid such a crisis and work to keep the government open."

"Coloradans expect their elected officials to do their jobs and work together to avoid shutting down the federal government," Gardner said. "I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and prove we are a responsible governing body that will do whatever it takes to reopen the government in the event of a shutdown. I'm proud to work with Senator Bennet on this effort and show the country that, regardless of party, Coloradans will never quit working for the American people."

The standing order, which is modeled after existing procedures, 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 hourly all the way up until midnight to ensure senators are in or near the Senate 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 following a motion to compel, warrants would be issued and the Sergeant at Arms would be required to arrest missing senators.