Supporting safeguarded automatic carry-overs to prevent Federal government shutdowns
Sponsored by Sen. Otoniel "Tony" Navarrete (AZ)
Unanimously ratified by the Caucus on December 5, 2019
WHEREAS, federal government shutdowns due to budgetary impasses have become increasingly common; and,
WHEREAS, the most recent record-breaking government shutdown of late 2018 and early 2019, produced negative consequences for all Americans, including a staggering economic loss of at least $11 billion, food safety concerns and roadblocks to the enforcement of environmental, financial and criminal laws; and,
WHEREAS, shutdowns are particularly unfair to innocent government workers and small contractors caught in the political crossfire, and the uncertainty they provoke tarnishes the attractiveness of public service careers; and,
WHEREAS, Americans of color are especially impacted by federal government shutdowns because they depend more than others on the protection of their government; and,
WHEREAS, due to certain recent policies, shutdowns and impasses are increasingly centered on issues of particular concern to Hispanic Americans, such as the southern border and DACA; and,
WHEREAS, earlier this year, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda’s (NHLA) Government Accountability Committee, co-chaired by NHCSL’s Executive Director, Kenneth Romero, discussed the aforementioned situation, approving and recommending the policy we adopt in this Resolution to help prevent Federal government shutdowns; and,
WHEREAS, the Committee recognized that budgetary impasses are a natural consequence of the separation of powers, an important bulwark of our democracy; and,
WHEREAS, the Committee stressed that, because shutdowns are a consequence of a Congressional enactment, and not of the Constitution, an appropriate amendment to the law could help to prevent them; and,
WHEREAS, the Committee recommended automatic budgetary carry-overs with certain safeguards to prevent abuses, as the proper way to address the increasing frequency of shutdowns.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators believes that an open Federal government should be a priority and that, in the event of a budgetary impasse, the Congress and the Executive should prevent shutdowns by carrying over the latest approved budget at the end of a fiscal year, month by month, with inflationary adjustments, until a new one is agreed to; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, in order to guarantee that congressional elections can always affect budgetary policy, the continuation described above should have a one-year sunset, thereby forcing a new budget at least every two years; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that for the above continuation to be effective, monetary totals for recurrent expenditures, like employee salaries, and safety-net programs, like Medicaid, veterans’ compensation, SSI and SNAP, should be automatically deemed appropriated and increased to cover inflation; and,
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that a copy of this Resolution be sent to the members of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, the appropriate members of Congress and the President of the United States.
THE NHCSL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED THIS RESOLUTION ON MAY 6, 2019 AT ITS SPRING MEETING IN WASHINGTON, DC.
THE NATIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS OF STATE LEGISLATORS UNANIMOUSLY RATIFIED THIS RESOLUTION ON DECEMBER 5, 2019, AT THE ANNUAL MEETING IN SAN JUAN, PR.
 Ylan Mui, The government shutdown cost the economy $11 billion, including a permanent $3 billion loss, Congressional Budget Office says (CNBC, Jan. 28, 2019), available at https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/28/government-shutdown-cost-the-economy-11-billion-cbo.html
 Damian Paletta and Erica Werner, Millions face delayed tax refunds, cuts to food stamps as White House scrambles to deal with shutdown’s consequences (The Washington Post, January 4, 2019), available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/millions-face-delayed-tax-refunds-cuts-to-food-aid-as-white-house-scrambles-to-deal-with-shutdown/2019/01/04/b5b58616-0fa3-11e9-8938-5898adc28fa2_story.html?utm_term=.1e7fe21388d3
 Lindsay McPherson, 10 House Republicans cross aisle to support ending shutdown of Interior-Environment programs (Roll Call, Jan. 11 2019), available at https://www.rollcall.com/news/10-house-republicans-cross-aisle-to-support-ending-shutdown
 Rich Schapiro, FBI agents say shutdown is hampering counterterrorism, sex trafficking probes (NBC News, Jan. 22, 2019), available at https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/fbi-agents-say-shutdown-hampering-counterterrorism-sex-trafficking-probes-n961371.
 Laurel Wamsley, How Is The Shutdown Affecting America? Let Us Count The Ways (NPR, Jan. 8. 2019), available at https://www.npr.org/2019/01/09/683642605/how-is-the-shutdown-affecting-america-let-us-count-the-ways
 Julie Hirschfeld Davis & Michael Tackett, Trump and Democrats Dig In After Talks to Reopen Government Go Nowhere (The NY Times, Jan. 2, 2019), available at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/02/us/politics/trump-congress-shutdown.html
 Jennifer Agiesta, CNN poll: DACA not worth a shutdown, except to Democrats (CNN, Jan. 19, 2018), available at https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/19/politics/cnn-poll-shutdown-trump-immigration-daca/index.html
 The Antideficiency Act (as amended), 31 U.S.C. § 1341 and §§ 1501–1519, prohibits officers in the Federal Executive from authorizing expenditures or entering into obligations or contracts for which there are no approved appropriations or funds. It also requires that appropriations be apportioned and allocated to specific uses before they can be expended by the Executive. According to a 1980 interpretation by then Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti this requires shutdowns when there is a budgetary impasse.
 The main safeguard would attempt to ensure that a majority change in either house of Congress would impact at least one budget, so that democratic results are respected. Another potential abuse for which a safeguard is provided is that those wishing to indiscriminately shrink the size of the government could use impasses to force carry-overs and prevent inflationary adjustments.