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Rep. Jennifer Wexton's idea for heading off government shutdowns

How to stop a government shutdown
Virginia congresswoman says people are still feeling effects of government shutdown 03:25

Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Virginia Democrat, has an idea for heading off future government shutdowns. She thinks that the only way to ensure that Congress can't shut down the government is to "get rid of the concept of essential employees." 

"I think the only way we can stop shutdowns is to get rid of the concept of essential employees. If we had to go a couple days without air traffic control, without transportation security, without border patrol, shutdowns wouldn't take place," Wexton told CBS News' Major Garrett on this week's episode of "The Takeout." "If we're going to shut down the government, we need to shut it down, and just see what the actual consequences are."

Listen to this episode on Stitcher

The freshman representative, defeated GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock in a closely watched race last year. Wexton represents a district in Northern Virginia, and her constituents include a significant number of federal employees and contractors. Her district was negatively affected by the 35-day government shutdown in December and January, which saw 800,000 federal workers furloughed or working without pay.

Wexton isn't sure whether President Trump would shut down the government again if his policy priorities are not funded. But federal workers should begin to save now, in case they have to work without paychecks for several weeks.

"I don't have a lot of faith that this president is going to do the right thing for this country and for federal workers," Wexton said.

Wexton also discussed some progressive policy ideas under consideration in the House, like Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal. She expressed reservations about Medicare-for-All because there's no agreement about what the legislation would do.

"There's no standardization, there's no defined term for when we say 'Medicare-for-All,'" Wexton said. "I don't think, as a nation, that we can transition to Medicare-for-All in one fell swoop: too expensive, too impractical, we don't have the providers."

And she she opposes the Green New Deal championed by progressive Democrats because it lacks specificity on efforts to combat climate change.

"My concern is that it doesn't contain any actual policy prescriptions or funding mechanisms for making it a reality," she said. "I need to know exactly what are you talking about and what's it going to cost, because I can't evaluate things in a vacuum."

Garrett and Wexton recorded the podcast at Firehook Bakery near Capitol Hill.

For more of Major's conversation with Jennifer Wexton, download "The Takeout" podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, or Spotify. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).

Producers: Arden Farhi, Katiana Krawchenko, Jamie Benson and Sara Cook

CBSN Production: Alex Zuckerman, Eric Soussanin and Grace Segers

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Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast

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