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Here’s how many times the federal government has shut down


(The Hill) – There have been 21 federal government shutdowns in the last five decades, as Congress has until September 30th to pass a set of spending bills or come up with a short-term plan to avert a soon-to-be 22nd government shutdown. 

A government shutdown would lead to non-essential federal functions such as social security and SNAP benefits to be suspended and result in millions of federal employees to not receive pay during the shutdown. 

The soon-to-be approaching deadline has lead to division between the House Republicans. Multiple GOP factions in the chamber have different demands, with some GOP House members even threatening to call for a vote to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from his leadership position. 

Here are the 21 times the federal government has experienced a shutdown. 

Year: 2019 

President: Donald Trump 

The most recent federal government shutdown lasted for 35 days from December 2018 to January 2019, the longest shutdown period in U.S. history. The shutdown happened due to former president’s demands for funding a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which Democrat lawmakers strongly opposed. 

The shutdown came to an end after Trump agreed to sign a short-term funding bill to reopen the government. 

Year: 2018 

President: Donald Trump 

One of the three shutdowns to happen during Trump’s presidency only lasted several hours. The shutdown happened due to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) repeatedly blocking the Senate from voting on a two-year budget agreement, which includes an extension of federal funding. 

The Senate was able to pass the bill the next day. 

Year: 2018 

President: Donald Trump 

This government shutdown only lasted for three days. This shutdown stemmed from Democrats’ refusal to vote on a spending measure unless Congress had an agreement to ensure protections for young children under the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival), a program that bans the deportation of unauthorized migrants who came to the U.S. as kids. 

Year: 2013 

President: Barack Obama 

The only shutdown to happen under former President Obama’s term at the White House only lasted for 17 days. The almost three-week government shutdown stemmed from House Republicans trying to push for a spending resolution that would’ve defunded Obamacare. 

Year: 1996

President Bill Clinton 

The second government shutdown to happen under the Clinton administration lasted for 21 days, the previous record holder for the longest shutdown in U.S. history. 

The shutdown stemmed from differences between Clinton and House Republicans on whether to use data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) or the Office of Management and Budget to figure out if the White House budget plan would balance, according to Vox.

Year: 1995 

President: Bill Clinton 

The first government shutdown to happen under the Clinton administration only lasted for five days, as Clinton vetoed a continuing resolution from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and late Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) which included increases to Medicare premiums, rollbacks of environmental regulations and a requirement to balance the budget within seven years. 

Year: 1990 

President: George H.W. Bush 

The only shutdown to happen under the Bush administration only lasted for four days, as the then president vetoed a stopgap spending bill, according to the New York Times.

Year: 1987

President: Ronald Reagan 

This government shutdown only lasted a day when Reagan and Democrats couldn’t see eye-to-eye on potential funding for the “Contra” militants in Nicaragua, as Democrats also pushed for reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, a Federal Communications Commission rule which requires broadcasters to give people equal time to share their perspectives on political issues.

Year: 1986

President: Ronald Reagan 

This shutdown only lasted for a day as House Democrats tried to push for an expansion for the then Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, which Reagan and a then Republican-controlled Senate disagreed on. 

Year: 1984 

President: Ronald Reagan 

This shutdown only lasted for a day as Democrats and Reagan evened out differences on the crime bill, civil rights bill and the water projects proposal. Democrats also agreed to temporary funding to Nicaragua’s anti-communist Contra guerrillas.

Year: 1984 

President: Ronald Reagan 

This shutdown, which lasted for two days, coincided with the one that happened a few days later. House Democrats at the time pushed for water projects and legislation that would’ve reversed a Supreme Court ruling at the time which allowed exemptions from Title IX of the Civil Rights Act for colleges and universities that didn’t receive federal funding directly but whose students did. A three-day spending extension was passed to give more time for both sides to negotiate a deal. 

Year: 1983 

President: Ronald Reagan 

This shutdown lasted for three days as Reagan and House Democrats butted heads over issues such as education funding, more aid to Israel and Egypt, less aid to Syria and El Salvador and less defense spending.

Both sides came to an agreement in the following days. 

Year: 1982

President: Ronald Reagan 

This shutdown lasted for three days as Reagan threatened to veto the House and Senate’s push for a public works jobs program, in an effort to create more jobs in the country. The House also opposed funding for the the MX and Pershing II missile programs, programs that were major defense priorities for Reagan. 

Year: 1982 

President: Ronald Reagan 

This shutdown only lasted for a day as Congress failed to pass a spending bill on time due to prior social engagements, including when Reagan invited all Congress members to a barbecue at the White House.

Year: 1981 

President: Ronald Reagan 

The first of eight government shutdowns to happen during the Reagan administration only lasted for two days, as Reagan vetoed a spending bill because it didn’t have enough spending cuts. 

Year: 1979 

President: Jimmy Carter 

This government shutdown only lasted for 11 days, when the House and Senate chambers debated on higher wages for congressional and civil service staff and funding for abortion in the case of rape and incest. 

Year: 1978

President: Jimmy Carter 

This shutdown lasted for 17 days, when Carter vetoed a defense spending bill because it funded a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which he thought was wasteful and other proposed projects he was opposed to. 

Year: 1977 

President: Jimmy Carter 

This shutdown lasted for eight days as Democrats and Republicans debated over abortion funding. 

Year: 1977

President: Jimmy Carter 

This shutdown lasted for eight days as Carter had to sign a short-term extension as Congress was still debating over abortion funding. 

Year: 1977 

President: Jimmy Carter

The first of five shutdowns to happen during the Carter administration only lasted for 12 days, as the Senate and House chambers disagreed over abortion funding, with the Senate wanting to use Medicaid pay to help fund abortions in cases of rape and cases of rape, incest, and when the health of the mother is in danger. In contrast, the House insisted on keeping the stricter ban. 

This was the first of the three government shutdowns to occur during the Carter administration, which were referred to as the “abortion shutdowns.” 

Year: 1976 

President: Gerald Ford 
The first ever government shutdown, which lasted for 11 days, occurred after then President Ford vetoed a funding bill for the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare, later divided and known as the  Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.

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