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Murkowski joins GOP senators backing bill to end government shutdowns

On the 20th day of a partial government shutdown, federal employees rally at the Capitol to protest the impasse between Congress and President Donald Trump over his demand to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Friday joined several Senate colleagues in introducing an act to end government shutdowns, on the same day hundreds of thousands of federal workers missed their first paycheck in a funding lapse on track to become the longest in history.

The act, introduced for several years by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, would create automatic spending extensions for regular appropriations bills when Congress can’t approve them by the Oct. 1 deadline. The funding from the temporary measure would slowly shrink over time, “until Congress does its job and completes the annual appropriations process," according to a statement emailed by Murkowski’s office.

The measure would not affect the current shutdown. More than 5,000 federal employees in Alaska were expected to miss paychecks Friday.

Murkowski, who said this week that there’s “no good reason for a shutdown,” has looked for solutions to end the impasse.

She co-sponsored the measure in past years, records show. She joined Portman and seven other Republicans in introducing the measure Friday, the statement said.

“The ripple effect of a government shutdown has consequences for all Alaskans — most directly on the thousands of federal employees and tens of thousands more that rely on our federal agencies,” Murkowski said in a statement Friday.

“This legislation permanently ends government shutdowns with a commonsense solution to avoid a funding lapse, ensuring the jobs and livelihoods of federal workers and contractors are not held hostage during political disputes," she said.

The partial government shutdown affecting nine agencies and 800,000 federal workers began shortly before Christmas, over President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding and Democratic resistance to the idea.

It reached 21 days on Friday, tying the record for the longest shutdown, which began in December 1995 under President Bill Clinton.

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