Quick-n-Dirty History of Government Shutdowns

The first government shutdown or “funding gap” occurs in 1976. Happy Bicentennial, President Ford!

How many government shutdowns since 1976? Eighteen counting this one.


Has anything changed? Julian Zelizer says we see two shifts: first, in 1980, when President Carter says that federal workers have to stay home during a shutdown, and second, in 1995/96, when shutdowns are first used as a tool for achieving political goals that aren’t strictly related to the budget.


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