Carter wins at 58 days, Clinton No. 2 at 26
The Dec. 21 partial closure of the federal government due to Congress and the Trump administration being unable to pass an FY ’19 budget nor continuing resolution is not just about border security (the Wall), but finger pointing, blaming and political one-upmanship.
We will see who blinks first during the current shutdown, which is actually a “partial shutdown” as Jeanine Martin noted on this blog, meaning, much of the government (i.e., Department of Defense), will be open and burning our tax dollars.
Government shutdowns due to budget impasses between the White House and Congress date back to 1976 when Congress adopted the current budget and appropriations process, including moving the federal fiscal year end from June 30 to Sept. 30 (which occurred in 1974).
According to Wikipedia, there have been 20 gaps in budget funding, eight of which led to federal employees being furloughed. Prior to 1990, funding gaps did not always lead to government shutdowns, but since 1990 the practice has been to shut down the government for all funding gaps.
However, the longest government closures did not occur during periods of divided government, i.e. Democrat presidents and GOP Congress, but when Democrats controlled BOTH the White House and Congress – -during the Carter administration!
And, three of them occurred because Democrats were divided over Medicaid funding for abortions (which became the Hyde amendment in 1978). Bill Clinton’s administration, when the GOP controlled both houses, had the 2nd longest shutdowns. Imagine – Democrats standing up for life!
Here is the list of federal government closures according to the Library of Congress:
2018 (President Donald Trump): Dec. 21 (3 days so far)
2018 (President Donald Trump): Jan. 20 to Jan. 23 – 3 days
2018 (President Donald Trump): Feb. 9 – 1 day.
2013 (President Barack Obama): Oct. 1 to Oct. 17 – 16 days
TOTAL OBAMA: 16 DAYS
None under George W. Bush.
1995-1996 (President Bill Clinton): December 5, 1995, to January 6, 1996, – 21 days
1995 (President Bill Clinton): Nov. 13 to 19 – 5 days
TOTAL CLINTON: 26 days
1990 (President George H.W. Bush): October 5 to 9 – 3 days
TOTAL George HW BUSH: 3 days
1987 (President Ronald Reagan): December 18 to December 20 – 1 day
1986 (President Ronald Reagan): October 16 to October 18 – 1 day
1984 (President Ronald Reagan): October 3 to October 5 – 1 day
1984 (President Ronald Reagan): September 30 to October 3 – 2 days
1983 (President Ronald Reagan): November 10 to November 14 – 3 days
1982 (President Ronald Reagan): December 17 to December 21 – 3 days
1982 (President Ronald Reagan): September 30 to October 2 – 1 day
1981 (President Ronald Reagan): November 20 to November 23 – 2 days
TOTAL REAGAN: 14 days
1979 (President Jimmy Carter): September 30 to October 12 – 11 days
1978 (President Jimmy Carter): September 30 to October 18 18 days
1977 (President Jimmy Carter): November 30 to December 9 – 8 days
1977 (President Jimmy Carter): October 31 to November 9 – 8 days
1977 (President Jimmy Carter): September 30 to October 13 – 12 days
1980 (President Jimmy Carter): May 1, 1980 – 1 day (Federal Trade Commission only)
TOTAL CARTER 58 days
1976 (President Gerald Ford): September 30 to October 11 – 10 days
TOTAL FORD: 10 days
No government employees were furloughed during the Carter shutdowns except the one involving the FTC in 1980. According to this article, here are the details of each closure:
9/30/77-10/13/77 (12 days) – The House wanted to continue a ban on abortion using Medicaid funding except in cases where the life of the mother was at risk. The Senate wanted to open this up to allow for abortions in the cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother was in danger. The funding was tied to departments of Labor and HEW (which became HHS under Carter), which led to the shutdown. The ban was eventually continued until the end of October, allowing negotiators time to work out a deal, ending the shutdown.
10/31/77-11/9/77 (8 days) – The prior standoff was not resolved, which led to another shutdown. Another temporary bill was signed by Carter giving more time for Congress to resolve its standoff.
11/30/77-12/9/77 (8 days) – The second temporary measure was not long enough — the House said a Senate proposal allowing Medicaid to pay for abortions by victims of statutory rape was a non-starter. A new deal was eventually brokered allowing an exception for cases dealing with abortions resulting from rape or incest or which are necessary to protect the mother’s health.
9/30/78-10/18/78 (18 days) – Carter vetoed a defense bill which included funding for development of the nuclear-powered Nimitz class aircraft carriers. He also vetoed funding for public works appropriations which he deemed wasteful. A new defense bill which excluded the carrier funding was eventually passed, as was a replacement public works bill which Carter signed, breaking the logjam.
9/30/79-10/12/79 (11 days) – The House wanted to raise congressional pay by 5.5 percent – the Senate opposed the move. The House also wanted to limit federal abortion spending to cases where the mother’s life was in danger. This led to a partial shutdown. The shutdown was ended when the House got their pay increases, but had to allow abortion funding in cases of rape or incest.
5/1/80 — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was shut down for one day after Congress failed to pass an appropriations bill for the agency. Federal Marshals were deployed to some FTC facilities to enforce the shutdown. About 1,600 workers were furloughed, and the shutdown cost $700,000.
Comment: Shutdowns of late are due to political grandstanding. The Obama closure was really a “Ted Cruz” shutdown. In October 2013, Cruz filibustered the budget in a failed attempt to overturn Obamacare. This catapulted Cruz as a national conservative hero and he raised tons of campaign donations from his stunt.
While I support the border wall, I am concerned how long Trump can withhold signing a continuing resolution, especially with Democrats taking control of the House in about 10 days. He has little chance of getting wall funding over the next two years. However, since much of the federal government is open during this current shutdown, it remains to be seen whether Trump will blink first.
I hope he doesn’t.