Senators risk arrest for not showing up to work during shutdown, if bill passes

A new bipartisan bill is aiming to keep Senators working during government agency shutdowns.

The bill known as the “Shutdown Accountability Resolution” was introduced by Colorado Senators Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner proposes to hold votes to be held during a shutdown until a bill reopening the government agencies is signed, according to the Denver Post.

The penalties for not being present could go so far as to involve the Sergeant At Arms, and other Capitol officers, literally dragging the offending senators back to the floor; the warrants are built in according to National Journal.

“If someone’s idea is to grind the government to a halt, then members of Congress ought to be darn well sure they’re finding a solution together,” Gardner told the Post. “You can’t do it by flying home. You can’t do it by going to your respective political corners. You can only do it when you’re here together, at work.”

Sen Michael Bennet Sen Cory Gardner
Sen Michael Bennet Sen Cory Gardner courtesy The Denver Post.

Bennett agreed with his colleague.

“No other enterprise that I have ever worked in produces the kinds of self-inflicted wounds that this institution has been producing over the last several years,” Bennet said. ”And this is a way of trying to address that.”

What gives this bill more teeth is that it allows for arrest warrants to be issued to senators who do not comply with requests to come to the floor.

“Here’s what we expect,” Bennet said. ”The members of the United States Senate would understand that — if they shut the government down, they will suffer consequences.”

“I don’t think anybody wants a headline back home saying that ‘Senator so-and-so had to be escorted by the sergeant at arms to do their job,’ ” Gardner added.

Although they haven’t approached other lawmakers yet they do expect to get bipartisan support.

Those consequences pale in comparison to what Sen. Lindsey Graham quipped he would do to force Senate to work during a shutdown if he were president.

“I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to,” Graham told Vox sarcastically. “We’re not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We are not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts.”


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