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Past Government Shutdowns: 17 And Counting

Rachel Scott, Jillian Morabito |
September 30, 2013 | 2:50 p.m. PDT

Executive Producers

Gridlock continues in the Capitol Building, photo by Sara Ne
Gridlock continues in the Capitol Building, photo by Sara Ne
We are merely hours away from another government shutdown and it’s certainly not the first time. As we head towards yet another one, let’s take a look back at the 17 government shutdowns that have happened over the course of our history.

SEE ALSO: Federal Shutdown Draws Closer: What You Need To Know 

September 30 to October 11, 1976 (10 days): President Gerald Ford vetoed a bill that Departments of Education and of Health and Human Services sponsored. He claimed it did not limit spending adequately enough. 

September 30 to October 13, 1977 (12 days): Democratic Senate wanted to loosen Medicaid restrictions to pay for abortions in cases of rape and incest, whereas the Democratic House insisted that money only be used to fund abortions in which the mother’s life is in danger. 

October 31 to November, 9, 1977 (8 days): The temporary bill that ended the shutdown two weeks before had expired so another temporary bill was signed to extend congressional negotiations.

November 30 to December 9, 1977 (8 days): Yet again, this one revolves around abortion. After the temporary bill expired for the second time, Congress was finally forced to resolve the problem. Congress decided to allow Medicaid to fund abortions for rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in danger.

September 30 to October 18, 1978 (18 days): President Jimmy Carter rejected funding for nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and vetoed a public works appropriations bill because he considered both wasteful. There was also another dispute over (you guessed it) abortion. 

September 30 to October 12, 1979 (11 days): For the fifth time, the same abortion debate caused this shutdown, as well as dispute over the Democratic House wanting to raise congressional and senior civil servant pay by 5.5 percent. 

November 20 to November 23, 1981 (2 days): President Ronald Reagan vowed to make drastic budget cuts, which the House claimed did not cut defense spending enough and did not raise pay for civil servants either. Reagan vetoed all proposals; the shutdown commenced. 

September 30 to October 2, 1982 (1 day): There was really no reason for the government to shut down. Congress just didn’t complete the budget in time. There may have been one too many cocktail parties that year.

December 17 to December 21, 1982 (3 days): President Reagan had another shutdown during his administration. House and Senate negotiators wanted to dedicate $5.4 billion and $1.2 billion in public works spending to create jobs. The House also opposed funding A MX missile program, which was a priority of Reagan’s at the time. In the end, the House and Senate caved in on their plans for jobs and Reagan made a few compromises and signed a bill that ended the shutdown.

November 10 to November 14, 1983 (3 days): House Democrats passed an amendment that added $1 billon to educational spending while cutting foreign aid below Reagan’s favored limit. Democrats in the House ended up reducing funding for education but kept the cuts to foreign aid. The compromise was seen as a win for both parties.

September 30 to October 3, 1984  (2 days): The Democratic controlled House linked the a series of amendments to stop crime, a water projects package and a civil rights measure to the spending bill. A three day spending extension was passed while the parties negotiated.

October 3 to October 5, 1984 (1 day): Well, the three day extension clearly didn’t work out and the government was back to square one. The water projects and the civil rights measure were removed from the spending bill. A comprise was reached on the crime proposal.

October 16 to October 18, 1986 (1 day): The shutdown was a result of several disagreements between Regan and the House including a ban for companies creating subsidiaries, requiring a portion of the goods and labor used in oil rigs to be from America and one that expands Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Democrats in the House compromised a few of their demands and passed a measure that reopened the government.

December 18 to December 20, 1987 (1 day): The dispute sparked when Reagan and Democrats could not agree on funding for the Nicaraguan “Contra” militants. A deal was worked out where nonlethal aid would be provided to the Contras.

October 5 to October 9 1990 (3 days): President George H.W. Bush refused to sign any budget resolution unless it included a deficit reduction plan. The House did not override his veto and the conflict persisted until both the House and Senate created a budget resolution provided an outline for reducing the deficit.

November 13 to 19, 1995 (5 days): President Clinton’s first government shutdown lasted five days. The Republicans controlled Congress wanted to raise the Medicare premiums.

December 5, 1995 to January 6, 1996 (21 days): The 17th shutdown was during the Clinton’s presidency and spanned across a 21-day period. At the time, the Republicans who controlled the Senate and the House demanded that the White House propose a seven-year budget plan that would balance the economy using the Congressional Budget Office instead of the Office of Management and Budget Office in the White House. There was controversy with whether or not the budget was being balanced correctly. In the end, the Republicans gave in and passed legislation that would end the shutdown. In return, President Clinton prosed an alternative plan that balanced the budget in seven years.

It has been 17 years since the government shutdown, but another one is nearing. With just hours to go, House Republicans are holding strong against a resolving bill unless it includes provisions that stop Obamacare.

Read more at the Washington Post here.

Related Neon Tommy stories:

Obama Cancels Asia Trip As Shutdown Crisis Grows

9 Beautiful National Parks Closed By The Government Shutdown

Bill Maher: An Evening Of GOP Rifs And Political Incorrectness 

Government Shutdown Wraps Up Day One Without Compromise 

Reach Executive Producer Rachel Scott here. Reach Executive Producer Jillian Morabito here.


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