It's only natural to want to avoid your colleagues when the going gets tough at work. But Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet want to make sure that's impossible for senators thinking about skipping town during contentious government agency shutdowns.
The bipartisan bill, introduced Thursday and called the "Shutdown Accountability Resolution," aims to encourage negotiations between senators when any agency is shut down. Hourly attendance calls would be mandatory between 8 a.m. and midnight each day of a shutdown, and if the majority of senators aren't present on the floor for a call, the missing legislators can be arrested by the sergeant-at-arms at the direction of their peers.
In an interview Wednesday with The Denver Post, Gardner, a Republican, said lawmakers need to actually be together to work through solutions.
"You can't do it by flying home. You can't do it by going to your respective political corners," Gardner said. "You can only do it when you're here together, at work."
The bill's parameters build on an extant procedure in Senate rules that can compel senators to come to the floor or eventually risk arrest, called a "live quorum." Per the Constitution, a simple majority of senators must be present in Senate chambers in order for there to be a quorum, which is necessary for the body to conduct its regular operations. The Senate can—and does—circumvent this rule by just assuming a quorum exists, without taking roll.