Ghosts of Shutdowns Past

The U.S Constitution, Article I, section 9, clause 7, requires that all expenditures of federal funds be authorized by Congress with the approval of the President of the United States. This is what is called the US Budget. Right now, the threat of a government shutdown is imminent. If a new budget deal isn’t reached by midnight tonight, a shutdown of the government will begin tomorrow. If this happens, it will not be the first time that our government has ceased operating. In fact, since 1981, there have been five government shutdowns due to approved budgets not being in place.

1981President Reagan vetoed a continuing resolution and sent 400,000 Federal employees home at lunch and told them not to come back. The shutdown lasted 3 hours before the president signed a new version and all workers were back to work the next day.

1984 – Again, under Reagan, 500,000 federal workers were sent home because a budget agreement couldn’t be reached . An emergency spending bill had them all back at work the next day.

1990 – During President Bush Sr.’s administration, the government shut down during the entire three-day Columbus Day weekend. Bush signed an emergency spending bill over the weekend, and all federal workers returned to work on Tuesday morning.

1995-1996President Clinton dealt with two government shutdowns during his administration. One began on November 14, 1995 which put non-essential government workers on furlough and suspended non-essential services from November 14 through November 19, 1995 and from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996. This shutdown was the result of a conflict between Democratic President Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress over funding for Medicare, education, the environment and public health.


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