Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell made historical allusions to the 1995 budget shutdowns on Friday as the current Congress avoided a shutdown of its own by reaching a deal to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year.
[W]e had an opportunity tonight to decide whether we wanted to repeat history, or make history, McConnell said on the floor of the Senate after a deal had been announced. Had we chosen to repeat history, we would have allowed a government shutdown. Instead we decided to make history by implementing in the middle of this fiscal year as the Majority Leader has indicated substantial reductions in spending.
Two federal government shutdowns began in 1995, near the end of the year as then President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich locked horns on funding for government programs.
The first shutdown lasted six days, from November 14 to November 19. The impasse, much like the current one, included Republican demands to cut spending.
The power balance was slightly different however. In 1995, the House and Senate were both controlled by Republicans. Today, only the House is.
Nevertheless, in 2011, disagreement in only one of the chambers was enough to trigger the possibility of a shutdown.
A White House official on Thursday, while the outcome of the latest crisis was still unknown, compared the potential toll on workers today to those in the first of the 1995 shutdowns.
Well, 800,000 is the number of folks that didn't work in 1995, and we believe that we're going to be in that same vicinity if indeed the government is shut down, said Jeff Zients, Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget.
The second shutdown was much longer, lasting 21 days. It began on December 16, 1995 and lasted until January 6, 1996.