NPR

Shutting Down The Government Is A Modern Phenomenon — And It's Uniquely American

We ask two historians: Whose idea was it to close the government when lawmakers and the president can't agree on how to fund it?
A U.S. Border Patrol agent walks toward one of President Trump's border wall prototypes on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border on Jan. 9, 2019, as seen from Tijuana, Mexico. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The ongoing partial government shutdown over border security is on track to become the longest in history, if it stretches into a 22nd day on Saturday.

Shutting down the federal government is a fairly modern phenomenon — the first one happened in 1980. So whose idea was it to close the government when lawmakers and the president couldn’t agree on how to fund it, and how did they settle those disputes before?

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson gets a history lesson from Joanne Freeman (@jbf1755) and Brian Balogh (@historyfellow), co-hosts of the podcast “BackStory,” produced at Virginia Humanities.

“Other countries don’t do it in quite the same way that we do,” Freeman says. “I mean they certainly have standoffs and

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