President Donald Trump called on Senate Republicans Friday to "use the Nuclear Option" to pass a spending bill that included billions in border wall funding, threatening "a shutdown that will last for a very long time" if they didn't. Yet Trump won't be the first president to see a government shutdown happen on his watch. Indeed there have been a number of government shutdowns since the passage of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Former President Barack Obama, for example, once saw a government shutdown drag on for 16 days. But government shutdowns seen under Trump vs. Obama show the presidents clearly had different priorities.
In a series of early morning tweets published Friday, Trump attempted to place the blame on Democrats. "Shutdown today if Democrats do not vote for Border Security!" he tweeted. "The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED," a second tweet from the president read. "If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time."
However, it was President Trump who appeared to send the country barreling toward a potential government shutdown when he announced Thursday that he'd veto a Senate-approved funding bill expected to easily pass the House. According to The New York Times, Trump said he would not sign a spending deal unless it included the billions of dollars in border security he has long demanded. In an effort to avoid a shutdown and appease Trump, House Republicans pushed through a hastily-hammered out stopgap funding measure that allocated $5.7 billion for Trump's border wall along with funding the government through to Feb. 8, The Washington Post has reported.
But it remains unclear if the spending measure will garner enough support to pass the Senate. Should it fail, Saturday would begin the third government shutdown under Trump.
Trump saw his first government shut down in January, after Democrats and Republicans clashed over extending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy that the Trump administration sought to end. At the time, Democrats refused to support a bill that did not include funding and extending DACA. According to The Washington Post, the Jan. 20 shutdown was the first government shutdown resulting in employee furloughs to have occurred while a single political party controlled both Congress and the White House. On Jan. 23, three days after the shutdown had begun, Congress approved a deal that would temporarily fund the government for three weeks, CNN reported.
While the second government shutdown of Trump's presidency was short lived — it lasted only nine hours — it occurred less than a month after the first. A delayed Senate vote on a spending deal caused the government to shut down for a few hours beginning at midnight on Feb. 9 after Sen. Rand Paul blocked a vote on a budget that would increase budget caps and raise the national debt ceiling. Although delayed, the vote eventually happened and the spending bill passed, landing on Trump's desk for his signature in the pre-dawn hours, according to Fox News.
In contrast, Obama saw only one government shutdown while president. The government shut down for a whopping 16 days beginning Oct. 1, 2013, after conservative Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, refused to pass a spending measure that did not include language aimed at defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act. After more than two weeks of both Obama and Congressional Democrats refusal to give in, conservative Republicans approved a spending measure nearly identical to the one they had rejected, Politico reported.
While the government shutdowns seen under Trump and Obama were all sparked by Congressional clashes over very partisan issues — not to mention both presidents' reported unwillingness to negotiate — they centered around very different presidential priorities. Trump's shutdowns have stemmed from issues related to immigration policy and border security funding, two issues central to his campaign. The shutdown seen during Obama's presidency, however, centered around his efforts to reform the nation's health care system in order to increase people's access to affordable insurance.
What's more, Obama never appeared to welcome or embrace the idea of a shutdown as Trump has. In 2013, CNN reported that Obama urged Congress to "get out of the habit of governing by crisis" and urged bipartisanship. In contrast, Politico has reported that Trump told Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer that he was "proud to shut down the government for border security."
Congress has until midnight Friday to get a spending bill passed if they want to avoid a partial government shutdown.