News / USA

Current US Government Shutdown Debate Similar to One 15 Years Ago

House Speaker Newt Gingrich (left) looks on as President Clinton talks to reporters in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 29, 1996 (file photo)
House Speaker Newt Gingrich (left) looks on as President Clinton talks to reporters in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 29, 1996 (file photo)

The impasse over the U.S. government budget now playing out in Washington is similar to a spending dispute in late 1995 and early 1996 that led to two shutdowns of numerous government operations.

Like today, the political fight involved a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, and a newly elected Republican majority in the House of Representatives that was seeking to curb government spending.  In the process, about 800,000 civilian federal workers were furloughed, the same number that could be laid off from their jobs this time, if Democratic President Barack Obama cannot reach an agreement on a spending plan with the Republican majority in the House, led by Speaker John Boehner.

The key players in the dispute 15 years ago were Mr. Clinton and Newt Gingrich, the Republican House speaker who had taken over leadership of the chamber after the 1994 midterm elections.  He called his campaign platform a "Contract with America."  It called for deep cuts in federal spending and the passage of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

When most of the Republican proposals failed to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, Gingrich and other Republicans sought major cuts in federal spending for health care for the elderly and the poor, similar to what today's Republicans are seeking.  And as now, lawmakers and the president kept the government open by passing a stopgap funding measure.

But in 1995, after Mr. Clinton vetoed a Republican spending bill he deemed too small for health care and education programs, the government closed for six days in November.

Another short-term spending plan was approved, but, it too, soon ran out.  The government was shut down a second time for 22 days - from mid-December 1995 to early-January 1996.  Congress and Mr. Clinton agreed on a seven-year balanced budget plan, but the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution was not approved.

Then, as now, Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for the budget conflict.  But in the 1990s, public opinion soon swung in the president's and the Democrats' favor.  Today, most public opinion polls show the electorate nearly evenly divided between blaming Democrats and Republicans in Washington for the budget stalemate.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid