Since the modern congressional budgeting process took effect in 1976, there have been a total of seventeen separate government shutdowns (or “spending gaps” in Hill jargon). Given that we appear to be headed for another one imminently [this has now happened], let’s look back at those experiences, the political circumstances around them and what happened as a consequence. Most of the specifics were drawn from The Washington Post print archives, which you can access for a modest sum here.
It’s also important to note that not all shutdowns are created equal. Before some 1980 and 1981 opinions issued by then-Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, a failure to fund some part of the government didn’t necessarily mean that that part of government would stop functioning. Civiletti’s opinions interpreted the Antideficiency Act, a law passed in 1884, as meaning that a failure to pass new spending bills required government functioning to shut down in whole or in part. So the “shutdowns” listed below that happened between 1976 tand 1979 did not always entail an actual stop to government functioning; they were often simply funding gaps that didn’t have any real-world effect.
OTHER SHUTDOWN NEWS:
- Shutdown begins: House officials say no more funding votes tonight (Washington Post)
- If the US government shuts down: what services would be affected? (Guardian)
- Why Investors Shouldn’t Panic if the Government Shuts Down (The Street)
- Some Military Banks Are Still Going To Pay Troops, Even If The Government Doesn’t (Business Insider)
- Sen. Tom Harkin: America at a point as ‘dangerous as the breakup of the Union’ (All Voices)
- Al Gore Accuses GOP of ‘Political Terrorism’ With Shutdown Threat (ABC)
- Fearmongering Over a Government Shutdown (Reason)