16 Government Shutdowns Throughout American History
16 Government Shutdowns Throughout American History

16 Government Shutdowns Throughout American History

Trista - January 26, 2019

16 Government Shutdowns Throughout American History
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares “You’re fired!” at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire on June 17, 2015. Dominick Reuter/ Reuters/ The Atlantic.

3. Trump’s First Government Shutdown Of 2018 Lasted Three Days

This shutdown is the start of a government shutdown which comes a bit later in this list. In January of 2018, Congress and President Donald Trump could not agree on immigration. However, at the same time, they were coming up with a plan to expand funding to the Children’s Health Insurance Program over six years. When the deadline approached on January 20th, the government shut down. Fortunately, for the government employees, this came on a Saturday and the matter resolved over the weekend, temporarily at least.

With pressure to open the government on Monday, Congress came up with a proposal, which President Donald Trump agreed to sign. In the plan, the funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program passed, however, Congress also gave a pledge that they would come up with an agreement for the immigration issue if a temporary bill were signed which would re-open the government. The statement made it to the president’s desk that following Monday morning, to which he agreed and signed the bill.

16 Government Shutdowns Throughout American History
President Ronald Reagan makes an announcement from his desk at the White House, circa 1985. Hulton Archive/ Getty Images/ Thoughtco.

2. Actor Turned President Has A Couple Two-Day Government Shutdowns

During his time in office, actor turned President of the United States, Ronald Reagan held a couple more government shutdowns. Fortunately, for employees of the government, these shutdowns only lasted two days. The first two-day government shutdown started on November 20, 1981, and ended on November 22, 1981. The reasons for this shutdown was the House and Senate passed a different budget for domestic. While both agreed to budget cuts, Congress wanted more significant budget cuts so they could get pay raises. Reagan vetoed this bill and signed a bill to allow more time so the government could re-open.

The second two-day shutdown happened later in Ronald Reagan’s career. This shutdown started around October 1, 1984, and went until October 3rd. During this time, Republicans held the majority for the Senate, and the Democrats held the majority for the House. This funding bill included the one thing Reagan wanted, a crime-fighting package. However, it also had two things he didn’t like: the water projects package and lesser funding for African American universities. In the end, Reagan signed a bill which continued the funding and allowed more time to reach an agreement.

16 Government Shutdowns Throughout American History
Donald Trump meeting Ronald Reagan. Newsmax.

1. Two Presidents Hold One-Day Government Shutdowns In Two Different Millenniums

Throughout the last few decades, several one-day government shutdowns have occurred, with most going unnoticed to even government employees. Ronald Reagan had four in his career. The first happened on October 1, 1982, and it was for no reason other than they ran out of time so everyone just pushed it through and Reagan signed it. Another one-day shutdown happened because they ran out of time to agree with a previous shutdown. The two other one-day closures ended when Congress decided to agree to Reagan’s terms so he would sign the bill.

The fifth one-day government shutdown happened on February 9, 2018. This shutdown might be the shortest in history as it didn’t even last a total of six hours. To keep the government doors open, Congress worked all night so they could make a deal that President Donald Trump could sign in the morning. Congress voted on the measure around 5:30 in the morning and then sent it to the president to sign. President Trump not only signed the bill at 8:40 am but also tweeted that he had signed the bill.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“Looking Back On The First Government Shutdown In U.S. History.” Sarah Gonzalez, NPR. January 2019.

“All 21 Government Shutdowns in U.S. History.” Tom Murse, Thoughco.com. January 2019.

“How long did the longest government shutdown stretch? 21 days.” Doug Criss, CNN.com. January 2019.

“Trump relents on border wall, ending shutdown with vow to use emergency powers without funding by Feb. 15.” Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News. January 2019.

“Record-breaking federal shutdown ends.” CNN. January 1996.

“The Ghost of Shutdowns Past haunts latest talks to keep the federal government open.” Michael Collins, USA Today. January 2018.

“Shutdown ends after Trump signs budget deal.” John Bresnahan, Jennifer Scholtes and Heather Caygle, Politico. February 2018.

“Government Shutdown Ends After 3 Days of Recriminations.” Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Thomas Kaplan, New York Times. January 2018.