The Government Shutdown, Explained


NPCA Photos via Flickr

National Parks closed across the country due to a lack of funding.

With the government officially ending the 35-day shutdown on January 25, the United States added another lengthy shutdown to its history of similar shutdowns affecting Americans’ daily lives.

This shutdown, though seemingly more complex and unique in execution, mirrors many others. The 1995-1996 and 2013 shutdowns were very similar in cause to the 2018-2019 shutdown, and they comprised the second- and third-longest shutdowns in history.

This shutdown concerned the conflict between President Donald Trump and Congress regarding a spending bill put towards building a border wall between Mexico and the United States to curtail illegal immigration. President Trump stated that the border wall would ensure the safety of the American people, but leading Democrats virulently opposed this view, leaving both parties in complete gridlock.

The 2013 government shutdown, the third-longest in history, also centered on a conflict between President Obama and Congress. Both Presidents Obama and Trump were resistant to outside persuasion during their shutdowns. However, President Obama knew that Obamacare would remain active throughout his term, which contributed to the end of the shutdown.

However, during the end of the most recent shutdown, President Trump reacted by calling a state of emergency to fund his border wall, allowing him to achieve his goal but still keep the government open after a funding resolution.

“Democrats opposed the shutdown because of the large number of federal workers who were left anxious and without paychecks,” said senior Nina Couture, president of the Young Democrats Club. “Trump entered into the shutdown because the Democrats would not agree to his expensive proposal for the wall.”

The longest shutdowns in history share the common trait of both parties having difficulties in reaching a middle ground on polarizing issues.

“The increased polarization and partisanship has fostered an atmosphere where compromise is seen as defeat rather than a requirement or objective of governing,” said Mrs. Everett, one of the AP Government & Politics teachers. “If either side had achieved any major policy objectives, then it would reinforce this negotiation tactic and make it more likely to be repeated.”

Sources: CNN, Time, The New York Times, NPR, Forbes, The Guardian

Photo Source: NCPA Photos via Flickr