Nightmare before Christmas: Lawmakers scrambling to fund government as deadline looms

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Exterior view of the US Capitol building, Washington DC, January 18, 2017.

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WASHINGTON – For lawmakers, trying to fund the government before holiday recess is quickly turning into a nightmare before Christmas. Congress has just five days to pass a spending bill while the threat of another government shutdown looms.

“That would be a disaster coming right before Christmas with our federal workers, our contractors,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said.

Sen. Warner says he doesn’t want a rerun of last year, when lawmakers were faced with the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

But he does have a plan in case history repeats itself. He calls it his “Stop STUPIDITY Act,” where everyone would get a paycheck except for members of Congress and the White House.

“I think if we had that in place, you wouldn’t ever see a government shutdown,” Warner said.

Sen. Warner tells Washington Correspondent Kellie Meyer he’s “optimistic” Congress will fund the government for the entire year.

Others aren’t so sure and worry another last-minute, short-term fix is on the way.

Alison Acosta Winters, with the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, says one solution would be to put in place an automatic stop gap every year. She says that would act as a safety net if Congress doesn’t have a spending deal reached by the usual Sept. 30 deadline.

“It’s not going to solve the problems, but it is a sound fiscal tool,” she said.

Right now though, with the deadline looming, the plan is not on autopilot and there is no backup.

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