U.S. Sen. Rob Portman chairs the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which recently completed a nine-month study of the financial impact of political foot dragging on taxpayers.
According to the report, during 54 days of partial or full government closures since 2014, $4 billion in costs for taxpayers was amassed, as was 56,938 years of collective missed work time by furloughed federal workers. Additionally, the shutdowns were found to have reduced economic growth by $11 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019.
The report is timely in that a spending bill is up for debate with a funding deadline of Sept. 30, though as of Thursday afternoon a vote was scheduled to potentially kick the can down the road for two months.
“I’ve been through five different shutdowns since my time working in the George H. W. Bush White House back in 1990. Three shutdowns just over the last five years. None of them worked,” said Portman. “I don’t know anyone who likes them now because we find out that when you shut down government, taxpayers actually pay more, not less.
“It might seem like if you shut down government, that’s good for taxpayers, but it’s actually bad for taxpayers. They foot the bill for back-pay for federal workers for the days those workers weren’t allowed to go to work. And they pay for other things, too, that they wouldn’t have to pay for if Congress did its job.”
Portman highlighted several examples of federal inefficiencies created by a backlog from last winter’s longest-ever U.S. government shutdown, such as processing of 501©(3) requests, processing of businesses making Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program requests, cancellation of over 60,000 immigration hearings and delayed contracting projects, among several others.
“All of this is indicative not just of a loss of purchasing power for federal employees but also a serious ripple effect of federal contractors, small businesses and others who serve the federal government,” said Portman. “Shutdowns have another effect. Each time our government fails to fund itself, the public’s faith in our institutions, including of course in this body, the Senate, the House, the presidency, falls even further. Not just here, but around the world.”
In recent years, Portman has advocated for passage of his End Government Shutdowns Act, which would aim to prevent future shutdowns by using automatic continuing resolutions to keep the government open at existing funding levels, according to a release from Portman’s office.
The bill has been put forth by Portman every Congress since 2010.