September 25, 2015

John Cooney discusses potential for government shutdown

2 min

Venable partner John Cooney discussed the potential for a government shutdown and its impact with Forbes, Inside Counsel, and the Washington Examiner. With last week’s announcement by House Speaker John Boehner that he will resign from Congress at the end of October, it now seems more likely that government will not shut down later this week. However, a shutdown could still happen later this year.

Cooney, who helped write the shutdown rules while serving as Deputy General Counsel at the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, told Forbes, "We turned the shutdown plan into a weapon the executive branch would be able to use against Congress." Enough essential services would remain in place during a shutdown to keep the nation functional and safe, but a number of popular services would stop giving the Administration PR talking points to use against Congress. "The people (in Congress) who advocate a shutdown are preparing a frontal assault that has failed every other time," Cooney added.

Speaking with Inside Counsel, Cooney said, "In past confrontations, the shutdown strategy has proved to be bad economic policy and politically a self-inflicted wound by Congress [in]…its battle with the President over spending priorities. The outcome promises to be no different this time if Congress forces an impasse and the normal functions of government stop… On the political front, members of Congress who are considering a shutdown should ask themselves what they are going to do differently this time to avoid the debacles Congress has suffered every time it previously has resorted to this strategy."

Discussing the negotiations between the White House and Congress over avoiding a shutdown, Cooney told the Washington Examiner, "Only the people involved in the negotiations know what the president's 'red lines' are," adding, "most administrations hold that close to the vest."