What is a partial government shutdown?

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A partial government shutdown refers to a government shutdown where not all but only a part of the agencies affected. Most of the government shutdowns in the United States were partial. Only 4 of the government shutdowns out of 10 had an effect on all the federal agencies.

However, only one out of these four government shutdowns lasted for more than 3 days. The 2013 government shutdown under Obama lasted for 16 days and affected all the agencies of the government. Here is an overview of the partial government shutdowns in the past.

Government ShutdownDurationPresident
19801 DayCarter
19811 DayReagan
19841 DayReagan
November 19955 DaysClinton
1995 – 199621 DaysClinton
2018 – 201935 DaysTrump

The most notable partial government shutdown was definitely the 2018 – 2019 government shutdown. It didn’t affect all the agencies but had an estimated cost of $5 billion to the government.

The affected agencies due to this partial government shutdown is listed below.

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of State
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Executive Office of the President
  • Judicial Branch

The bottom line here is if the government shutdown only caused a number of agencies to be shut down, it is a partial government shutdown. It also applies to government shutdowns where the majority of the agencies are closed. Even if a government shutdown occurs where most of the agencies are shut down, it is going to be considered a partial government shutdown.


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