GOP Sen. Portman warns Democrats: Shutting down the government doesn't end well

Key Points
  • Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio is warning Democrats that government shutdowns historically don't end well.
  • The last shutdown in 2013 forced hundreds of thousands of federal workers to take temporary leaves and lopped about 0.3 percent off GDP that year.
Sen. Rob Portman: Democrats found 'soft ground to fight on' by holding out on spending bill

Sen. Rob Portman warned Democrats on Friday that government shutdowns historically don't end well.

With a midnight Friday deadline looming, many Senate Democrats are against a short-term spending bill that's needed to keep the government funded through Feb. 16.

Democrats want the bill to include protections for so-called dreamers — immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and were protected from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Republicans say the issue is unrelated to the spending bill.

On CNBC's "Squawk Box," Portman noted that Republicans forced a government shut down in 2013 after tea party Republicans sought to use the spending bill to force then-President Barack Obama to delay implementation of his health-care bill. "It didn't turn out too well," he added.

That 16-day shutdown had forced hundreds of thousands of federal workers to take temporary leaves and had lopped about 0.3 percent off real gross domestic product growth.

"This is an opportunity to remind ourselves of what happened in 2013," said Portman, who had served as Budget director under President George W. Bush. "Let's not shut down the government, let's keep it running."

The GOP also forced a shut down in 1995 under then-President Bill Clinton over disagreements, including funding for Medicare.

The Ohio Republican Portman said Democrats are opposing the short-term spending bill to "score political points" with constituents and the party's behavior Friday is "unusual."

In an earlier "Squawk Box" interview on Friday, Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said the House's short-term spending bill, which passed late Thursday by a 230-197 vote, is an example of irresponsible governance.

The New York congressman, who voted against the House bill, said it did not sufficiently address Democrats' concerns about the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The House bill "simply meets a political agenda," said Jeffries, a member of Judiciary and Budget committees.

Jeffries sent a letter to President Donald Trump that outlined key priorities that he believes must be addressed in any spending bill, including CHIP and DACA.

"The president triggered the DACA crisis," Jeffries said. "There is significant agreement across party lines ... that we need to provide a permanent resolution of the 'dreamer' situation."

On Thursday, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to quickly overturn a lower court ruling that blocked President Trump's move to end DACA. The White House wants to work on a permanent DACA fix after securing a temporary spending bill.

— Reuters contributed to this report.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter Morning Squawk

CNBC's before the bell news roundup
Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and services.
By signing up for newsletters, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.