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The History of Federal Government Shutdowns

Updated on February 22, 2015
Froggy213 profile image

Greg has many opinions when it comes to politics and education. He has no qualms with voicing his opinion..

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Many people are flustered and upset.

It is the year 2013 and our Federal Government has now been shut down for 11 days.

This has caused much controversy and bewilderment.

I have heard so many people claim we need less government and now that we have it, many of those same people are screaming.

You would think that this is the first time in history this has ever happened. Not so.

The Federal Government has shut down before. Prior to 1996, government shutdowns were actually mild. Most employees kept working.

This shutdown scheme started when the modern congressional budget system started in 1976. Maybe we need to go back to a prior budget system.

Let's tale a look at the history of Federal Government shutdowns.


Gerald Ford who was Republican was President of the United States.

Democrats controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The issue was a funding bill for Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare.

On September 30th, Ford vetoed the bill which sent the government into a partial shutdown. On October 1st, Congress overrode the veto, but it took until October 11th, for all funding gaps to take place.

Here is the link to this resolution.



Jimmy Carter was the Democrat President.

Both the House and the Senate were Democrat controlled.

The Democrats in the House of Representatives wanted to keep a ban on medicaid paying for abortions. The Democrats in the Senate wanted to loosen this and allow and allow it for rape cases.

This caused another partial shutdown on Sept. 30th. The shutdown was over on October 13th. The House won with the ban standing until Oct. 31st to keep the government running.


The dispute on this abortion raged on with Democrats against Democrats. On October 31st, another partial shutdown occurred. Jimmy Carter signed a temporary bill giving time for the leaders to figure it out. The partial shutdown was over on November 9th.

Shutdown #3

Wow, Democrats made themselves look bad in 1977. Yes, the issue kept rolling on medicaid and abortion. On November 30th, partial shutdown happened again. It took a lot of hotheads to figure it out, but finally on December 9th, it all came to a close.

A woman could use medicaid to pay for an abortion if raped.

Proposed Nuclear aircraft carrier
Proposed Nuclear aircraft carrier | Source


Jimmy Carter was still President and the Democrats also controlled both the House and the Senate.

Proposed was a bill that included funding for a Nuclear powered aircraft carrier. Carter wouldn't have it.

"Foolish government spending," exclaimed the one time peanut farmer.

Carter vetoed the bill sending the government into shutdown from September 30th until October 18th, when Congress agreed to take the carrier out of the bill.


It seemed these Democrats liked government shutdowns.

Vacation time for them?

Jimmy Carter was President and the Democrats still controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Back in the forefront was the abortion issue and also Congress wanted a pay raise.

Shutdown happened again on September 30th.

The pay raises came with the other side giving in allowing abortion in rape cases.

The government was back in order on October 12th.


They made President Ronald Reagan angry.

He told the Democrat controlled Congress that he would veto the spending bill if it did not have the budget cuts he insisted on.

Senate agreed, but not the Democrats in Congress.

On November 20th shutdown happened but a bill was quickly signed giving more time. The shutdown only lasted until the 23rd.


The same players as 1981.

The shutdown was because of tardiness.

Reagan had the Republicans from the House and Senate eating barbeque. The Democrats had a $1000 a plate fundraiser and they were all late voting on the spending bill.

Shutdown was on September 30th. It all fired back up on October 2nd.

Veto Power

Shutdown again happened on December 17th when the House passed a jobs funding bill. Reagan wanted the MX missile so a compromise was reached when he let the jobs bill go through if the MX one passed.

The shutdown was over on December 21st.


Same players as the prior year.

Reagan was strong on defense and aid for ally Israel.

The House passed a bill with a major amount going to education. They cut defense spending which Reagan just couldn't handle.

On November 10th another shutdown was the result. Compromises were made and reopening came on November 14th.


Again we have President Reagan with a Republican Senate and a Democrat House.

Shutdown was forced on September 30th. Congress wanted a water package and Reagan wanted a crime package. Neither budged and Reagan signed an extension opening the government on October 3rd.

The extension was over and still no compromise. On October 5th the government reopened with a very victorious Ronald Reagan. The water package dropped and the crime package stayed.


Same as before; Reagan at word war with the Democrat controlled House.

Shutdown occurred on October 16th and was over very soon on the 18th.

The sale of government owned Conrail resulted from this.

Nicaragua Contras
Nicaragua Contras


Here we still had President Reagan, but he was up against Democrats in both the House and Senate.

The Contra affair in Nicaragua was the primary focus.

On December 18th the government shutdown, but not for long. Funding came for the Contras and all was in working order on the 20th.


George H.W. Bush was our Republican President.

All of the House and Senate were Democrat controlled.

Bush wanted deficit reduction and vetoed the bill that crossed his desk.

Shutdown came on October 5th. On October 9th Congress fixed it so Bush would pass it.

The government opened back up.


Here is where Government shutdown caused some serious issues.

Bill Clinton was the Democrat President and Republicans controlled both the House and Senate.

This whole shutdown we are having now is very similar to the one Clinton had.

It was about medicaid and the budget.

The first shutdown came on November 13th when Clinton vetoed the budget. On the 19th, a deal was brokered for 75% funding for four weeks.

The four weeks up, heads butted again. On December 15th the Federal Government went into the longest shutdown in history.

Congress wanted the budget drawn on a 7 year timetable from their budget ideas and Clinton wanted it from his budget ideas.

Finally, on January 6th, after 21 days, the compromised.

Same Drill?

Our current shutdown is so very similar to the Clinton fiasco.

I, personally think that all the players...President, House and Senate members should all lose pay during this.

We have people that are losing pay--we have National parks and monuments closed, but all these people will get their normal pay.

Doesn't it make good sense that anytime a shutdown happens, all of them lose what would be their daily pay for each day it is down?

The following poll may get some people fired up, but I am curious to views.

Let's hear your views--two polls and probably some hard comments.

Lets keep it civil.

The Blame Game

Which Party Has Been The Biggest Culprit Behind Government Shutdowns?

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2013 Shutdown

Who Is The Biggest Culprit In The 2013 Government Shutdown

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© 2013 Greg Boudonck


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    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 4 years ago from Will soon return to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      You are welcome, and yes, I agree with you.

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 4 years ago from Texas

      I believe the Democrats want to make the Republicans irrelevant and along with them all Americans who did not vote with them. This is a very dangerous game they are playing. The President claims to be president of all Americans but I learned as a child that actions speak louder than words. His actions make him a liar. I do not believe any of them on either side. There is something going on behind the scenes that none of us know about that is placing all of us in danger. Thanks for this hub. Enjoyed reading it.

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 4 years ago from Will soon return to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Yes, you are correct, but they all have different agendas as lobbyists sit on their backs.

      I am wondering if this shutdown will beat the 1996 record.

    • profile image

      Hxprof 4 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

      This shutdown would be over quickly if for 2 things: 1) House Republicans would stick to one issue, that being a one year delay in the individual mandate 2) Senate Democrats admitting that giving industries a one year waiver on the requirement to provide health insurance to all full-time employees, while at the same time requiring individuals to buy insurance or be penalized is unfair and wrong. Shutdown over.

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 4 years ago from Will soon return to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Thank you Maggie. I appreciate and love you.

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 4 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      Ohhh political issues are the same, same and same. They are roller coasters. I do not believe in "Politics". To me everything is fake, messy and history for them is like a fairy tale, or a fiction story.

      Good search Greg, that says how these political people try to lead walking in sand. This is so absurd....I don't like politics. but very informative hub!