US government shutdown: A timeline

Al Jazeera breaks down the US partial government shutdown day-by-day as it hits the one-month mark.

Shutdown rally US
Federal air traffic controller union members rally against the partial US federal government in Washington, DC [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

The partial US government shutdown hit the one-month mark on Monday with no sign of ending any time soon.

Since before it started, there have been public feuds, high-stakes meetings, threats and rallies.

As the shutdown continues into its 34th day, here’s a look back at how it began and key points in the failed negotiations.

December 11, 2018 – Trump: I’d be ‘proud’ to shut down the gov’t

Trump says he would be “proud” to shut down the government for “border security” in a heated exchange with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Trump (second from the right) argues about border security with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (right) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Vice President Mike Pence sits nearby in the Oval Office [Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP] 
Trump (second from the right) argues about border security with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (right) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Vice President Mike Pence sits nearby in the Oval Office [Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP] 

December 19 – Senate passes spending bill

The Senate passes a short-term spending bill that would keep the government open through the first week of February. The bill is sent to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives

December 20 – Trump says he won’t sign Senate bill; House moves to add wall funding

After signs from the White House that the administration had found an alternative way to pay for a border wall, Trump says he won’t sign the Senate version of the spending bill. 


The House adds more than $5bn in funding for a wall to their own version of the bill, sending the legislation back to the Senate.

December 22 – Partial government shutdown begins (Day 1)

Senate Republican leadership fails to get enough votes to pass House bill. The shutdown begins.

January 2, 2019 – Trump, Democrats meet again; Smithsonian museums close (Day 12)

Democrats leave a meeting with Trump, saying they are no closer to reaching a deal on the shutdown. The Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo in Washington, DC, close due to the shutdown.

January 3 – Democrats take control of the House, pass spending bills (Day 13)

Democrats pass a two-part spending package hours after taking control of the House. The package would reopen the government and allocate more than $1.3bn in funding for border security measures, but not a wall.

Trump says he will not sign any bill without funding for a border wall.

January 4 – Trump threatens national emergency (Day 14)

After meeting with Congressional leaders, Trump says he could declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress to build the border wall. 


He also tells Democratic leaders that he is prepared to keep the government closed for months or even years.

January 8 – Trump addresses nation; Democrats respond (Day 18)

In his first national address from the White House’s Oval Office, Trump makes his case for the border wall, saying there’s a “humanitarian crisis” at the southern border.

Democratic leaders Pelosi and Schumer respond in a televised speech, accusing Trump of appealing to “fear, not facts” and “manufacturing a crisis”.

January 9 – Trump walks out of meeting with Democrats (Day 19)

Trump walks out of a meeting with Democrats after they said they would not allocate money for the border wall if he agreed to end the shutdown.

Trump calls the meeting a total waste of time.

January 10 – Trump visits US-Mexico border; renews threat (Day 20)

Trump renews his threat that he may declare a national emergency to build the wall on the border as he visits McAllen, Texas, to bolster his case that the country is facing a crisis at the border.

The House passes individualised spending bills to reopen specific departments and agencies. The bills are sent to the Senate, but Republican leader Mitch McConnell says he won’t bring forth any legislation that Trump won’t sign.

Cheryl Monroe (right), a Food and Drug Administration employee, and Bertrice Sanders, a Social Security Administration employee, rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown [Paul Sancya/AP Photo] 
Cheryl Monroe (right), a Food and Drug Administration employee, and Bertrice Sanders, a Social Security Administration employee, rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown [Paul Sancya/AP Photo] 

January 11 – Thousands of federal employees miss first paycheque (Day 21)

Some 800,000 federal employees miss their first paycheque. About half are furloughed and the other half required to work without pay. 


January 12 – Shutdown becomes longest in US history (Day 22)

As the shutdown hits the Day 22 mark, it becomes the longest in US history.

There have been 20 other shutdowns since the modern budgeting process began. Previously the longest lasted 21 days under former President Bill Clinton.

January 14 – Trump rejects Republican’s proposal (Day 24)

Trump rejects Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s proposal to reopen the government without wall funding and allow for wall funding talks to continue. The Senior Republican says that if Trump didn’t get his wall funding after three weeks, he could declare a national emergency.

January 16 – Pelosi calls for Trump to delay State of the Union (Day 26)

Pelosi and other Democrats call for Trump to delay his scheduled State of the Union Address until after the government shutdown. The annual speech is scheduled for January 29. 


Trump also signs off on a Congressional bill that guarantees backpay for government workers affected by the shutdown.

January 17 – Trump grounds Pelosi and other Democrats (Day 27)

Trump cancels a Pelosi-led trip of Democrats to Belgium, Egypt and Afghanistan after the speaker demanded the president delay his State of the Union Address. 


In a letter sent to Pelosi, Trump says she could still fly commercial if she wanted. Pelosi’s team accuses Trump of leaking sensitive information about the trip, allegations the White House denies.

State Department employees are instructed to go back to work at least for now. The department says it found money to pay most of its employees through the next pay period, which ends on February 14.

January 19 – Trump offers deal that Democrats say is ‘inadequate’ (Day 29)

Trump offers to temporarily extend protections for young undocumented individuals brought to the country as children, as well as that of Temporary Protection Status holders in exchange for border wall funding.

Before the plan is officially announced, Democrats say it is “unacceptable” and “inadequate”, calling it “a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives”. 


January 20 – US TSA agents absences hit record levels (Day 30)

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says unscheduled absences among its staff, who are required to work without pay during the shutdown, rose to a record 10 percent. The agency says it is up from the previous high of seven percent on January 19.

January 23 – Trump delays State of the Union address (Day 33)

Trump announced that he was delaying his annual State of the Union address after Pelosi withdrew the House’s invitation for the president to speak in its chamber until the shutdown is over. 

“This is her prerogative,” Trump tweeted as the row between him and the speaker escalated. “I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I am not looking for an alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber,” he said. 

January 24 – Senate rejects two bills aimed at opening the government (Day 34) 

The US Senate rejected both a Republican-backed bill and a Democrat-backed bill aimed at re-opening the government. The Republican bill was based on Trump’s offered, which included border wall funding in exchange for temporary protections for young undocumented individuals brought to the US as children. The Democrats’ bill did not include border wall funding. 

After the Republican-led Senate failed to advance two measures to reopen shuttered agencies, Democratic and Republican politicians spoke on the Senate floor and urged quick passage of a three-week, stopgap funding bill to create time for talks on border security.

But White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said such a measure would only work “if there is a large down payment on the wall”.

January 25 – Flights delayed due to shortage of TSA staff; workers miss second paycheques (Day 35)

A shortage of air traffic controllers led to delays and the halting of some flights at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, New Jersey’s Newark Airport and the Philadelphia International Airport. 

Flights into LaGuardia were briefly halted on Friday morning due to staffing issues, according to a statement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

Controllers and airport screeners are not being paid during the ongoing partial government shutdown.

January 25 – Trump, congressional leaders agree to temporary deal without wall funding 

Trump and congressional leaders agreed to a short-term spending bill that would fund the government through February 15 and end the longest shutdown in US history. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies