The US government shutdown implies the suspension of work of certain government agencies, financed directly by the US Congress, due to failure to pass a funding bill for the next fiscal year.
However, the suspension of financing does not mean an immediate closure of enterprises and institutions, some of which, for example, the US State Department, have unspent funds in their accounts that might be used for some time.
It is noteworthy that shutdowns have happened more than once in the history of the United States. Two government shutdowns have occurred during the Trump administration alone.
The US federal government shut down at midnight on January 2018, due to the lack of funding after the Democrats in the Senate prevented the Republicans from passing the spending bill. The Democrats demanded that immigration measures, which were opposed by Republicans and the White House, should be included in the temporary budget. The Democrats’ leader in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer, blamed Trump for shuttered federal agencies, which were left without funding because the bill had failed.
Following the move, on February 7, the Republicans and the Democrats announced a two-year budget deal to end the permanent sequestration. It was assumed that the federal spending could rise by almost $300 billion over the next two years. However, at the last moment, Republican Sen. Rand Paul demanded a vote on his amendment, providing for funding within the current limits.
Two day later, it became known that the US Congress failed to approve the budget in time and federal agencies automatically suspended work at midnight.
And later in the day, Trump signed the federal budget bill for the 2018-2019 fiscal year after the Senate and the House of Representatives had passed it.
The second shutdown of 2018 began on December 22, after the Democrats refused to include $5.6 billion in the next year’s budget to build the controversial wall on the US-Mexican border.
According to the Democrats, the wall does not solve the problem of migration. The Republicans, with a thin majority in the Senate, proposed to adopt a temporary budget by February 8 without $5 billion, demanded by Trump, but the president refused to sign the bill. As a result, the budget was not approved, which led to a partial shutdown of the US federal government.
The US Senate refused to hold a vote on a spending bill, and this automatically extended the shutdown on December 27.
US lower house Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schumer called on Trump to reopen the federal government and stop the shutdown while continuing discussions on border security.
Previously, the US government has shut down 18 times, with budget funding gaps lasting from one day to three weeks.
During the Barack Obama administration, the shutdown took place in 2013 and lasted for 16 days. According to some estimates, the cost of the shutdown amounted to $24 billion. In late September 2013, the budget and debt crisis erupted in the United States, following Republicans’ refusal to vote for the increase of the state debt ceiling for the next fiscal year. As a result, many US federal agencies partially closed down on October 1, 2013. Around 800,000 federal employees were furloughed, while another 1 million individuals worked without payment.
The crisis was triggered by the disagreements between the Democrats and the Republicans on Obama’s health reform. The Republicans refused to approve the spending bill without the provision for Obamacare’s abolition or postponement of its entry into force.
Prior to this, a financial shutdown in the United States occurred during the Bill Clinton administration in late 1995-early 1996 and lasted for 21 days, setting a record in duration. The president managed to reach an agreement with the Congress on a compromise state budget. According to experts, Clinton came out of the crisis on top, as the Republicans had to accept almost all of his conditions.
The record number of government shutdowns — eight — occurred during the presidential mandate of Ronald Reagan. The reasons for the shutdowns varied, but the budget funding gaps never exceeded three days.