Maybe not as rare as you think Dennis....
Yes, and a well deserved one. Go back in history and let us know if you find anytime that a budget was not passed for a fiscal year. If you do find that did happen, it will definatley be rare and the exception and not the rule.
Budget Showdown 2011: Q & A – How Many Times in US History has the Government Shutdown Over the Budget?
Posted on April 8, 2011 by bonniekaryn| Leave a comment
HISTORY Q & A:
HOW MANY TIMES IN US HISTORY HAS THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN OVER THE BUDGET?
By Bonnie K. Goodman
Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.
With just under a day left for negotiations before the government will shutdown and despite working non-stop this week Congressional Republicans and Democrats have still not come to an agreement for the 2011 Budget. Wednesday and Thursday President Obama kept meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at the White House, declaring some progress, still no agreement has been made. Although Obama opposes and threatened to veto the measure Speaker Boehner and Republicans are working on a week extension to prevent the shutdown on midnight Saturday. At issue is the 7 million difference between the Democrats proposed 33 million and the Republicans 40 million in spending cuts. The shutdown would affect 800,000 federal workers out of 2 million workers, and will also affect all aspects of the government at a time when the fragile economy is just starting to recover.
The government’s budget has been at the center of all previous shutdowns, and the 2011 budget battle is not different. A budget needs to be passed by Congress and signed by the President prior to the commence of the new fiscal year on October 1, or continuing resolutions need to be passed to keep the government operating at the prior year’s fiscal spending limits. However, if Congress fails to pass a budget or resolution, or the President vetoes or does not sign the resolution; resulting in a government shutdown as there are no funds allocations to operate government. The last and longest government shutdown in American history was when Democrat Bill Clinton was President and Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the Republican Congress in November 1995 and in December 1995 through to January 1996. The clash over the 1996 budget caused a government shutdown for a total of 21 days. High partisanship affected the budget negotiation process resulting in the shutdown.
Prior to the Reagan Administration, however, there was never a large enough clash over spending or the budget to cause a government shutdown. Throughout the 1970s, various agencies have had to shutdown because of budget issues, but never was there a cross government shutdown. The introduction of Keynesian supply-side economics to the Federal government, differing economic philosophies regarding spending, and an increase of partisanship between Democrats and Republicans accounted for the succession of government shutdowns throughout the 1980s. During the Reagan administration, the government spent the most time on the brink of government closures. After short closure in 1981, 1984 and 1986, the government again faced similar situations in 1985 and 1987, however, both those times closures were averted.
Nov. 23, 1981: The spending feud between the Republican President Reagan and the Democratic Congress led to the first shutdown. Reagan refused to sign Congress’s continuing resolution in the morning. Leading to a shutdown in the government for the afternoon, forcing 400,000 of the 2.1 million federal employees home. Later the same day Reagan signed a revised version of the continuing resolution, ending the shutdown with work resuming the next morning.
Oct. 4 1984: The second occurrence of a shutdown in US history and Reagan’s presidency occurred when Congress failed to pass a stopgap money bill, when a new budget was not passed for the new fiscal year. On October 4th 500,000 civil servants out of the 2.9 million civil servants where sent home from their jobs; leading to a partial shutdown. An emergency spending bill passed, which Reagan signed, and normal government operations continued the next morning. Both times the shutdowns were limited in their implications and impacts.
Oct. 17, 1986: For the third time in the Reagan Presidency, the Democratic Congress and presidency’s inability to agree on a new fiscal budget led to another half day furlough. Congress had also failed to come to an agreement and pass a spending bill. At Midday 500,000 non-essential federal employees were forced home. An emergency spending bill passed, returning employees the next day to work.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH
All previous government shutdowns lasted a half of day, in 1990 that changed under Reagan’s successor and former Vice President, and then President George H.W. Bush when the government experienced its longest shutdown. In October 1990 the government was shut down a total of three days, because of Democratic Congress and the Republican President could not agree on a budget for 1991. As signs of economic problems were visible on the horizon, the battle was centered on the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act to balance the budget. Democrats wanted to increase taxes on the nation’s richest to reduce the ballooning deficit, but in the 1988 campaign Bush had promise he would not increase any taxes across the board. Bush threatened to veto any budget that Congress presented to him that included a tax increase.
Oct. 6, 1990: President Bush made good on his veto threat; with the budget vetoed and without a continuing resolution agreed upon, the government was shut down throughout the three day Columbus Day weekend. Both the President and Congress wanted to limit the negative impact of a shutdown, and they agreed the new budget would not include any surtax or tax increases. Over the weekend President Bush then signed a continuance, and government opened on Tuesday morning. The closure during the holiday weekend limited the impact a three day closure would had on running the government, had it been closed for three days during the week. Bush was however, was forced to agree to tax increases, going against his main campaign pledge. The President signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 on November 5, 1990 securing a budget for the fiscal year.
The 1995-1996 shutdowns were the longest amid the most heated battle over the budget between Congress and the President. President Clinton chose to veto several appropriation bills in the 1996 budget, at issue was funding amounts for social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, public health, education, and the environment, all programs Clinton pledged to maintain to the public, however, the Republicans wanted Clinton to submit a seven year plan for a balanced budget. The Republican Congress could have voted on a continuance to keep the government operating on the previous fiscal years spending limits. However, the Republican controlled Congress looked to shut down the government hoping the public would blame the Democratic President, leading to a Republican victory in the next year’s Presidential election.
Many believed Gingrich was motivated by revenge as opposed to policy when allowed the shutdown to occur, Senator Tom Delay in his memoir No Retreat, No Surrender wrote, “He told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One… (After Yizhak Rabin’s funeral, where Clinton refused to discuss the budget as well on the flight) Newt had been careless to say such a thing, and now the whole moral tone of the shutdown had been lost. What had been a noble battle for fiscal sanity began to look like the tirade of a spoiled child. The revolution, I can tell you, was never the same.” Throughout the shutdown Clinton suffered in the polls, but in the end the backlash was against the Republicans instead, whose popularity waned after the shutdowns, and in the 1996 election they actually lost 5 seats in the Congress to Democrats.
Nov. 13, 1995: The first shutdown commenced at midnight on November 13, 2005, after a last minute attempt to avert the shut down; Clinton, Gingrich, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and Senator Bob Dole met, but failed to reach a compromise. Clinton described the negotiations in his memoirs, My Life; “Armey replied gruffly that if I didn’t give in to them, they would shut the government down and my presidency would be over. I shot back, saying I would never allow their budget to become law, “even if I drop to 5 percent in the polls. If you want your budget, you’ll have to get someone else to sit in this chair!” Not surprisingly, we didn’t make a deal.” At the midnight, a partial shutdown led to 800,000 “nonessential employees” being sent home or told not to come into to work, with only emergency government services remained open. This represented 42 percent of the civil servants employed. The shutdown only ceased with an agreement on a temporary spending bill.
Dec. 16, 1995-Jan. 5, 1996: When the temporary funding measures expired, and no continuance was yet again signed, the government shut down this time for 14 days from December 16, 1995 and finally ending on January 5, 1996; the longest shutdown period in US history. Although Congress enacted resolutions to end the shutdown and another temporary spending bill was signed ending the 21 day partial government shut down, the government did not go back to fully functioning until April. Clinton agreed to submit a seven year balanced budget plan approved by the Congressional Budget Office to ensure the government would keep running after the January 26, 1996 spending extension end date. With the agreement, Clinton declared ‘The era of big government is over.’
In 1990 and in 1995, 1996, the budget battles and their subsequent shutdowns forced compromises, especially on the side of the President more than Congress. In 1990 Bush had to agree to tax increases, while in 1996, Clinton had to agree to a seven year balanced budget plan. Bush going against his campaign pledge lost his 1992 bid for re-election, Clinton however, escaped with a higher approval rating for his handling of the 1996 budget showdown, and was re-elected later that same year, while Republicans heavily shouldered the blame for the shutdowns.
Now within hours of the government being shutdown after one of the longest budget battles in history, one side will blamed more than other for allowing a shutdown. Neither side has been able to compromise, Republicans are aggressively pursuing a week extension, and while President Obama has looked to keep out of the battle as much as possible, a veto to even the emergency week extension measure could shift the blame towards both the Democrats and the President. As time wanes one aspect seems almost certain, 2011 will be added to the list of recent government shutdowns over a budget battle, while only time will tell the long term political ramifications a such a shutdown at a time of economic fragility.