Joni Ernst has the right idea

Wants Congress to get its job done — on time

Americans have become frustrated by the failure of Congress to get its work done on time. Adopting a budget and approving the appropriations bills needed to fund the government should be a top priority. Unfortunately, for decades Congress has repeatedly failed to get these basic tasks accomplished before the start of the federal fiscal year.

As a consequence, there have being numerous short-term funding measures — kicking the funding decisions down the road rather than making them by Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year. Additionally, there have been shutdowns and short-term funding lapses. In nine of the last 20 years, Congress has never even managed to adopt a budget.

These failures of Congress to do the work Americans expect it to accomplish have had major negative consequences. According to information just released by Sen. Joni Ernst, waste resulting from this haphazard performance may have been as much as $4 billion. Beyond that it is impossible for federal departments and agencies to operate optimally if they do not know what funding they will have before the fiscal year begins.

To try to force Congress to get its act together, the Iowa Republican has joined with two other senators — James Lankford, R-Okla. and David Perdue, R-Ga. — to introduce the No Budget, No Recess Act. The goal of this legislation is to make it impossible for Congress to takes recesses and engage in other nonessential activity if they don’t get these important financial tasks completed on time. The proposed law mandates that if Congress hasn’t approved a budget by April 15 or completed an appropriations bill by Aug. 1:

• It would not be able to adjourn for more than eight hours.

• No funds would be available for official travel.

• Two quorum calls would be held per day to ensure that members of Congress cannot leave Washington.

“Hardworking Iowans, and Americans across the country, are sick and tired of government shutdowns, continuing resolutions and massive omnibus spending bills,” Ernst said. “This dysfunctional cycle is not the way our government was designed to function or should function. If we fail to pass a budget and spending bills, we should stay in town and work together until we get the job done.”

That makes sense to us.

The Messenger applauds Ernst for sponsoring this measure. We urge its prompt adoption.

Businesses and other organizations are expected to develop budgets and make spending decisions in an orderly fashion. Failing to get the work done on time just isn’t acceptable elsewhere in our society. The same should be true for Congress.

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