The Roots of Government Shutdown

The Roots of Government Shutdown

by Brian Wise
NewsWest 9

You're probably no stranger to deciding how money is spent in your house. On Tuesday, Congress and the White House are trying to push separate agendas and that means federal workers are losing the chance to work.

The government shutdown has roots spanning back to George Washington and the framers of our constitution. It all comes down to money and how our government wants to spend it.

There hasn't been a government shutdown in 17 years but deciding how to spend tax dollars has been set in stone since the American Revolution. In 1789, the framers of the constitution split the power to spend money. Congress would vote on a budget and the president would sign it into effect.

In the 1800's, the House of Representatives and the Senate found that deciding a budget wasn't enforced. The War Department would order things on credit and then give the IOU to Congress. The Anti-Deficiency Act was passed. Now any official that spent money without a congressional thumbs up could be fired.

During the Carter presidency, Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti found out that there is no authority over government employees when an agency has no funding signed by the president. Employees had never been sent home before. President Carter told all government employees to be ready for shutdown on October first in 1980. No shutdown happened but the president and the Congress continue to use the shutdown to a political advantage. 

Federal employees were sent home three times in three different shutdowns during the Reagan presidency. Only departments that protect people and property can come to work. State parks and national museums were closed Columbus Day in 1990. George H. W. Bush wanted no new taxes raised.

Then between 1995 and 1996, the government shut down for six days and then 21. It was the longest shutdown in American history. President Bill Clinton and the Republicans at the time could not decide on spending into the holidays and the new year. Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House, did suggest that he brought government to a standstill because the president led him out of the wrong side of Air Force One.