10 Government Shutdowns You Might Have Forgotten


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Government shutdowns typically occur when the legislative body disagrees on the budget and the government can no longer provide nonessential services. That means government employees don't report to work, national museums aren't open and national parks are closed until Congress and the Senate can agree on a proposed budget. As the U.S. awaits a possible government shutdown this Friday, April 8, it's a good idea to reflect on these 10 government shutdowns you might have forgotten about:

  1. Government Shutdown of 1981: On Nov. 23, 1981, President Ronald Reagan had a conflict with Congress over the budget and vetoed a continuing resolution. He ordered a Federal shutdown that sent 241,000 of the Government's 2.1 million employees home. This large furlough targeted employees who were deemed "nonessential" to the protection of life, national security and Federal property. After a couple hours of deliberation, Reagan signed a new version of the continuing resolution and Federal workers were ordered to return to work the next day. The one-day shutdown cost taxpayers approximately $80 to $90 million in back pay and other expenses.
  2. Government Shutdown of 1984: On Oct. 4, 1984, Congress failed to approve a stopgap money bill and about 500,000 federal employees were sent home midday. The furlough ended the next day when an emergency spending bill was put into action and workers returned to work. The 1984 shutdown is estimated to have cost $65 million in back payments.
  3. Government Shutdown of 1986: On Oct. 17, 1986, Congress failed to pass a spending bill needed to keep their agencies running. Similar to the shutdown in 1984, the government also sent home 500,000 Federal workers, who were deemed nonessential, at midday. They returned to work the next day and the furlough only lasted half a day. It was estimated that the furlough cost taxpayers more than $62 million in back payments and lost work.
  4. Government Shutdown of 1990: On Oct. 6, 1990, the country experienced one of the longest government shutdowns at that time. It occurred on a Saturday during Columbus Day weekend. During this time, national parks and museums, as well as the Statue of Liberty were padlocked. Luckily, most of the Federal employees were off for the holiday weekend, but avoided a midday furlough when President George Bush and Congress agreed on a budget deal. The shutdown is said to have cost taxpayers nearly $1.7 million in losses.
  5. Connecticut State Government Shutdown of 1991: In July 1991, Connecticut's Governor Lowell P. Weicker Jr. ordered a shutdown because he and the state legislative leaders could not agree on a budget resolution. After six days of partial government shutdown, Governor Weicker ordered the 20,000 state employees who were furloughed to return to work. The shutdown proved to be no significant breakthrough for the state's revenue system.
  6. Government Shutdown of 1995-1996: The 1995-1996 government shutdown occurred in two phases because of a conflict between Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress over Medicare funding, public health, education and the environment. The first phase of the shutdown lasted five days, from Nov. 14 to Nov. 19, and came to an end when the White House and Congress agreed to balance the budget over the next seven years. When the agreement failed to be implemented, the second shutdown took place on Dec. 15, 1995 and lasted until Jan. 6, 1996. After the new budget was approved, a blizzard swept through Washington, D.C., and furloughed federal workers had to wait even longer before returning to work.
  7. Minnesota State Government Shutdown of 2005: On July 1, 2005, the state of Minnesota experienced its first partial government shutdown in history after Governor Tim Pawlenty and the Minnesota Legislature disputed over the two-year state budget. Pawlenty ordered a shutdown that suspended state services and kept nearly one-fifth of state employees from attending work, in which they were required to use their vacation time or go without pay. However, state patrol and some health and welfare programs continued to work, and state parks remained open. The shutdown was resolved on July 9, and the Legislature came to an agreement on the "lights on" measure that sent 8,900 employees back to work.
  8. New Jersey State Government Shutdown of 2006: On July 1, 2006, the state of New Jersey experienced a statewide shutdown initiated by Governor Jon. S. Corzine. The shutdown went into effect on a Saturday after the Governor and his fellow democrats in the New Jersey Legislature could not come to an agreement on his plan to increase the state sales tax to help balance the budget. Gov. Corzine threatened to close beaches, parks, casinos and nonessential government services over the course of the shutdown. New Jersey's first statewide shutdown came to an end on July 8, when a new budget was adopted and all state employees returned to work on July 10.
  9. Pennsylavania State Government Shutdown of 2007: On July 9, 2007, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell ordered a partial shutdown of nonessential state government functions because of a budget disagreement with the Legislature. The shutdown kept about 24,000 state employees from reporting to work and closed all state museums and state parks. During the 24-hour shutdown, furloughed employees did not receive pay and it seriously hurt the state's summer tourism efforts.
  10. Michigan State Government Shutdown of 2007: On Oct. 1, 2007, the state of Michigan experienced an embarrassing shutdown that proved to be more financially damaging than helpful. Governor Jennifer Granholm refused to sign any budget extension unless lawmakers passed the bills needed to increase the state income tax and expand the sales tax. When they couldn't come to an agreement, she ordered a statewide shutdown that temporarily laid off 35,000 state employees and closed state parks, freeway rest areas and stopped traffic monitoring cameras. The shutdown ended on the same day after hours of deliberation and state employees were ordered back to work.
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