April 6th, 2011
11:20 PM ET

A look back to 1995, before the last series of government shutdowns

As U.S. congressional leaders face a Friday deadline to avert a partial government shutdown, it might be worth looking back at what leaders said during a similar situation less than 16 years ago.

Included in this post is video of a CNN report from November 1995, shortly before a similar spending standoff led to the last series of partial government shutdowns.

"[The 1995 report] is really fascinating because you can just change the names, and it was almost the same as the arguments that we’re hearing from both sides now," CNN's Wolf Blizter said Wednesday.

Blitzer, who made the 1995 report, compared the rhetoric from both periods.

"At the time, the (House) speaker, Newt Gingrich … was saying that the president is more interested in politics (and) campaigning,” Blitzer told "CNN Newsroom" on Wednesday. “We just heard John Boehner, the (current House) speaker, say that the president is often in Pennsylvania (and) campaigning … very similar rhetoric then, to what’s going on right now.”

"It's a different environment right now," Blitzer said. "At that time, there was maybe a $4 trillion national debt. (Today) there is a $14 trillion national debt. There was no Tea Party movement then - there was a Contract with America movement then, but no Tea Party movement then."

Like today, the government in November 1995 hadn’t settled on a spending measure that would cover the whole fiscal year. Republicans this year were pushing for a deal that would cut spending by $61 billion, but Democrats have wanted only a fraction of that.

The most recent temporary spending measure is set to expire, and if a full 2011 plan (or another temporary spending measure) isn't passed by midnight Friday, some government services and offices could shut down until a plan is agreed upon.

The 1995 standoff resulted in two partial shutdowns – a five-day period in November and a 21-day period in December and January 1996. Some 800,000 federal workers were sent home during the first shutdown, and 284,000 more were sent home during the second.

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Filed under: Budget • Politics • TV-CNN Newsroom
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Gerry McGovern

    If the US Government Approval process was set up similar to us Canadians this would not be at issue and it would be government business as usual. When we negotiate budgets we discuss them in Parliament with all the elected officials taking part. Sometimes amendments are proposed and either approved or denied. Should a budget be defeated, it just goes to loss of confidence in the House, and immediate election is called, but government business does not grind to halt, and a month later a new party is in power proposing another budget. In a majority case these usually pass as there is not enough opposition to vote it down. In a slim majority or minority this could very well happen but again Government business still carries on. Maybe the US needs to separate budget policy from government business. Our Senators can delay the budget approval and amendments as necessary but again does not stop government business from continuing no matter how long it takes.

    April 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dalsharan

    This is ridiclous. I am on the front lines making sure this country can live in peace and now i have to worry that ill have enough money saved up so my wife and son can eat and get medical care and things my son needs. I know everyone is like "Oh but you will get it all back" Thats not what im worried about im worried about wether i will have enough money to cover until congress decides to stop acting like kids.

    April 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Three Bears

      Amen... having been in the Army and now out I sympathize... really these nuts (teabaggers...OOPS that is supposed to be a bad word...my bad!!) want everything to go...Anarcists...it does not matter it you are liberal or conservative... this shutdown is bad karma

      April 8, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. George Margerum

    If nothing changes nothing changes. If a business can not pay off its interest owed to suppliers. It goes bankrupt. It is simple. For years you have been all hurting. Slowly sinking. Casnada is doing better than anyone else right now. I am not bragging. As I feel all should prosper. The way things are implemented, have to be seriously altered. Cuts are neccessary. Military spending will have to come down. Medical be careful you need healthy people to cost you less later. I see first problem is your politicans. You need the power over them. Second everyone in the country is responsible. Creating work is important. A world market means you will make less. This is reality. Unions fighting to make multiple amounts over others. It may get to the point that fighting for what doesnt exist will sink you. I

    April 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
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    April 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. frolona

    wasn't '95 the last time the dems were in office? huh, imagine that.

    April 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
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