December 03, 2015

John Cooney discusses the 1990s government shutdowns with Federal Times

1 min

Venable partner John Cooney was interviewed in a December 3, 2015 Federal Times article on the 1990s government shutdowns. "The 1995-1996 shutdown was deliberately designed to be as broad as Congress could make try to show the public a lesson: that the public interest would not be harmed if large portions of the federal government stopped functioning for a period of time," said Cooney. "Federal employees work very hard to serve the public, and it’s discouraging beyond words to see that Congress thinks so little of the value of your program and the sacrifices you make that they are willing to shut the program down."

The president and Congress eventually came to a budget agreement reopening the government, however, "People sided with the president and understood that Congress precipitated the shutdown," said Cooney. "Congress had defaulted on its constitutional function, which is to provide the appropriations necessary for the government to continue functioning."  He added, "The 1995-1996 experience introduced shutdown brinksmanship as a routine threat in the annual debates between the president and Congress over federal fiscal policy."