Did Government Shutdowns Happen Under Obama? Trump Says He’d Be “Proud” To Force One

By Caroline Burke
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On Tuesday, during a discussion with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Trump declared that he would be "proud" to force a government shutdown in the name of securing funding for the border wall. If he follows through on his word, the government shutdown will take place on Dec. 21, and it will technically be the third government shutdown to take place under the Trump administration. And for those wondering if government shutdowns happened under Obama, the answer is that they did. Though the underlying reason shutdowns have occurred over the years is pretty consistent, the two presidents' attitudes toward them couldn't be more different.

Trump's first and second government shutdowns happened last winter, on Jan. 20 and Feb. 8 when Senate Republicans and Democrats couldn't agree on the inclusion of DACA, among other issues, in the government budget. In contrast, Obama's only government shutdown occurred in 2013, when Senate Republicans and Democrats were virtually deadlocked over a bill that included provisions to defund the Affordable Care Act.

These situations are largely different in terms of what was being argued in the Senate at the time of the shutdown. However, they're similar in one specific way: All of the government shutdowns under Obama and Trump were caused by an extremely partisan issue that neither political party was willing to back down on.

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Obama and Trump's responses to the notion of a government shutdown, on the other hand, highlight a starker contrast. On Oct. 1, 2013, Obama delivered remarks on the government shutdown, noting that the "Republican shutdown did not have to happen."

Obama continued, "We know that the longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be. More families will be hurt. More businesses will be harmed. So once again, I urge House Republicans to reopen the government, restart the services Americans depend on and allow the public servants who have been sent home to return to work."

The former president also gave a concluding comment that's just as relevant now as it was in 2013: "I want to underscore the fact that Congress doesn't just have to end this shutdown and reopen the government; Congress generally has to stop governing by crisis."

In contrast to Obama's condemnation of the government shutdown, Trump welcomed it on Tuesday. Pelosi said (via The Washington Post), “I think the American people recognize that we must keep government open, that a shutdown is not worth anything, and that you should not have a Trump shutdown."

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Later on, Trump said he would "take the mantle" if he had to. He said to Schumer, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. Because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into this country. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I won’t blame you for it.”

In 2013 during Obama's government shutdown, Trump appeared on Fox & Friends to point the finger of blame at the president for the congressional crisis. He said, "When they talk about the government shutdown, they’re going to be talking about the president of the United States, who the president was at that time ... So I really think the pressure is on the president."