HELENA – Montana lawmakers said Monday they plan to work this week on preventing a federal government shutdown at the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said avoiding a shutdown is the most important issue for lawmakers this week.
“The clock is ticking,” Tester said. “Taking a hacksaw to government and shutting it down is not the way to go.”
A short-term funding bill has been introduced in the U.S. House and it’s likely to come up for a vote this week. The legislation would continue funding for government services and programs at the current level until Dec. 11.
Tester says the bill was written without contentious provisions and as long as none are added, he believes the bill should pass.
“If we start putting things on that we haven’t debated, or big ticket items, that’s going to mess things up,” he said. “I think a clean CR (continuing resolution) should pass without a lot of hassle.”
The federal government is slated to run out of money on the last day of the month if Congress does not act.
Last year, a 16-day partial government shutdown over President Barack Obama’s health care law caused damage to the GOP without reining in the law.
Although Republican Rep. Steve Daines cast a vote that helped lead to last year’s shutdown, he said Monday he wants to resolve the matter of this year’s potential shutdown before the end of the month.
“The American people expect and deserve their elected officials to work together to find solutions,” Daines said. “It’s important that we get that done this week.”
Sen. John Walsh said Monday that Montanans deserve a long-term budget solution.
“Another partisan fight that shuts down the government, locks Montanans out of our public lands, and costs our local economies $45 million is unacceptable,” he said. “Montanans expect the leaders they send to Washington to work together in favor of solutions, not make harmful votes to shut down the government.”
If the short-term funding bill passes in the next few weeks, Tester said he expects a long-term extension would be passed before the end of the year that would provide funding until Oct. 1.
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