2019 government shutdown climbs historical charts

Current partial shutdown already ranks among longest

While the Lincoln Memorial remains open to visitors, some facilities were closed due to the government shut down on New Year's Day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1/8/19 | Democratic congressional leaders left a meeting at the White House on Friday with little hope for an end to the ongoing standoff over federal appropriations.

“We told the president we needed the government open,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “He resisted. In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.”

A short while later, President Donald Trump confirmed Schumer’s allegation.

“I did say that. Absolutely, I said that,” Trump said.

It won’t take long for this partial government shutdown to become the longest in America’s history. The current stalemate is already just days away from that title.


While there have been numerous lapses in appropriations over the years, they have only resulted in actual shutdowns since 1978, when President Jimmy Carter’s attorney general, Benjamin Civiletti, released a legal opinion that most government work must cease until Congress has appropriated the necessary funds.

The nation’s longest shutdown was in December 1995, when President Bill Clinton faced off against Republicans led by Speaker Newt Gingrich, who had taken power at the start of the year and was demanding cuts in entitlement and other non-defense spending. That shutdown lasted 21 full days, was capped by a snowstorm, and was long enough to be credited with a baby boomlet of “furlough babies” later that year.

Watch: What really happens during a government shutdown, explained

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