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Two Tennessee Congressmen offer ideas for avoiding future government shutdowns

Photos: FOX 17 News

Two Tennessee Congressmen are proposing legislation to keep the federal government from enduring another painful government shutdown.

Democrat Jim Cooper and freshman Republican Mark Green have proposed separate measures that they believe would keep the government open and remove the worry from federal workers that their paychecks will again become a bartering chip.

"It's called no budget, no pay. It's easy to shutdown someone else's part of the government, but if your own paycheck is affected, you're going to go slow about that," said Nashville representative Jim Cooper. "My colleagues in Congress want to be paid, and this time they were being paid despite the shutdown for other people, and that made it wrong."

Green, on the other hand, is working with some other newcomers to Washington to tie the continuing resolution that funds the government to long-term spending.

"We actually put a bill together, the freshman class, with the Democrats and tried to come up with some consensus. We'd allow a continuing resolution as long as we could cut the spending model. There has to be some incentive for people to come to the table," Green said. "We're working very hard, both sides of the aisle to prevent these kinds of things in the future."

Neither bill is close to passing before the February 15th deadline when government funding runs out again, putting 25,000 federal workers in jeopardy of losing their paychecks again.

In 2013, Republicans in Congress passed Cooper's No Budget, No Pay idea for one year, seeking to score a political win over then Democratic President Barack Obama.

Both Cooper and Green agree that the shutdown was myopic. The impasse ended with President Donald Trump agreeing to a deal that was largely the same one he could have signed a month earlier. The continuing resolution that funded the government through February 15 was unanimously passed by the Republican-controlled Senate before the shutdown.

"The shutdown was a terrible, terrible mistake. It never should have happened. It should never happen again," Cooper said.

"I completely get it, and in solidarity with those guys, cut my paycheck during that period," Green said. "Just wouldn't have been right. We're working very hard, both sides of the aisle to prevent these kinds of things in the future."

Neither Green nor Cooper could say whether they believed Congress would reach an immigration deal before the February 15 deadline.

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