If Congress does nothing, then at midnight on Friday, January 19, the federal government will shut down. And with no deal in sight on funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program or offering relief to immigrant youth protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a shutdown is looking likelier every minute.
Government shutdowns are familiar to most Americans, but they’re a relatively recent development. They are the result of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Since then, Congress has failed to authorize funding for the federal government on 18 separate occasions.The first six of those didn’t actually affect the functioning of government at all. It wasn’t until a set of opinions issued by Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti in 1980 and ’81 that the government started treating “funding gaps”— periods when Congress has failed to allocate funds for the ongoing functions of government — as necessitating the full or partial shutdown of government agencies.
Here are all 18 funding gaps, and why they happened. When not otherwise cited, the explanations below come courtesy of this helpful piece by some dude named Dylan Matthews.
Shutdown 1: September 30 to October 11, 1976