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Government Funding Runs Out This Week. Will There Be Another Shutdown?


People used to say that Congress, the media, the country at large can focus on only one crisis at a time. We are starting yet another week that will test that proposition because lawmakers face multiple urgent questions, each with even bigger implications. Thursday is a deadline to fund the government or see another shutdown. Lawmakers have linked that deadline to another deadline in March to extend protection for people brought to the United States illegally as children. And then there's President Trump's escalating attack on the FBI.

We will discuss all this with Joseph Crowley, congressman from New York, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, which is one of the top leadership positions for his party. Congressman, good morning.

JOSEPH CROWLEY: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Is the government likely to shut down on Thursday?

CROWLEY: Well, in all likelihood, I think that we'll find some way - I think Republicans will find a way to punt to March. That's been the standard so far. There - it's no way to run a government. They've been running it from week to week or month to month at this point or months to months. And I suspect, when all's said and done, that they'll probably, in some way, pass a short-term CR to probably March 5 or thereabouts.

INSKEEP: Oh, so you would coordinate then? Or they would coordinate that deadline with the other deadline for DACA recipients whose protections...

CROWLEY: That's...

INSKEEP: ...Run out on March 5.

CROWLEY: Yeah, that's been some of - you know, we don't know exactly what they'll do at this point. The summary was that they may just do a shorter CR and then ultimately punt to the 5 of March. There's also some other rumors out there that the Republicans in the Senate would like to punt the issue of DACA for an entire year and take it off the table for a year and address it later. I, too, don't think that's showing much leadership in terms of dealing with the issues of the day that the president himself has created. But wait and see just what their intentions will be.

INSKEEP: I'm also wondering if the movement that appears here is real movement. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, did promise that the Senate would take up the question of extending protections for DACA recipients. There would be a debate. They'd see if anybody could get 60 votes for any immigration proposal.


INSKEEP: He made that promise. But haven't leaders in your body - the House - said they're not going to take up this issue at all?

CROWLEY: Yeah, exactly. The rules, you know - the rules of engagement in the House and Senate are completely different. What Mitch McConnell has promised to do, I think, to Minority Leader Schumer was to - if they did not have a bill or a more permanent solution on the floor by this week - that they would have the ability to bring a bill - a DACA bill - to the floor with the ability to amend it on the floor, as well, and, you know, let the best bill pass. The House has never taken up any legislation dealing with immigration. In fact, when the Senate passed the comprehensive immigration bill several years ago...


CROWLEY: ...The House never addressed it. And we have never taken up a bill. It is...

INSKEEP: So what do you say to your base voters, Congressman, if you come away from this debate with nothing on DACA?

CROWLEY: Well, I do think that we have to address this issue. There's no doubt. We have almost 800,000 individuals who are limbo. The president - and that's what'll happen if we actually extend it for a year. We'll just be in another year of limbo for these folks. So this really is a moral question, I think, for us. The American people overwhelmingly support a fix for the DREAMers and for - you know, poll after poll shows over 80 percent want to see this addressed. And so it will be done. What I see happening is the president continues to take, as I say, hostages. He's now - he takes these almost 760,000 individuals and these souls and adds another million or so to that...


CROWLEY: ...Of folks who may have been eligible for DACA.

INSKEEP: Let me just...

CROWLEY: And it's...

INSKEEP: I understand what you're saying there. We've got a limited time. I do...

CROWLEY: Yes, yes.

INSKEEP: ...Want to ask about one other thing, and that's the memo. As you know, (laughter) as everybody knows really, Congressman Devin Nunes oversaw the creation of a Republican-led memo that was criticizing the performance of the FBI. It was finally released...


INSKEEP: ...On Friday to great uproar and much criticism. Democrats now have their own memo they would like to get released. What more do you want revealed than has already been heard?

CROWLEY: Well, I read both of the memos and cannot speak to the Democratic memo because of the nature, which still...

INSKEEP: Still classified.

CROWLEY: ...Is considered classified. But the reality is they should've actually released both memos simultaneously - at the same time - in fairness. What Republicans were trying to do and attempting to do was to control the narrative, at least for a week or so, before the Democratic memo was released. That would've debunked the basis of the memo in the first place. And I think that Congressman Nadler and his release of his analysis actually debunked it fairly well regardless. But there is no question that that's exactly what the Republicans were up to. Nunes never actually read the underlying information that led to their supposed review in this memo, whereas the Democrats, I think, give a more balanced approach.

INSKEEP: But when you talk about what more needs to be revealed, what is not out in the public that should be?

CROWLEY: Well, I think you will have to wait to see when that memo comes out exactly. The basis for what the Republicans based their memo on - that is cherry-picking. That is not the full narrative or understanding of the underlying information. And we'll see - we'll have to wait and see when the Republicans - it will come out.


CROWLEY: There's no question about the memo...

INSKEEP: The question here and come - boils down to Carter Page, a one-time Trump campaign aide. And what was the evidence that was used to get a warrant to surveil him? Republicans have alleged that some of the evidence was tainted. Democrats have responded there was other evidence. They've - Republicans have also said just - transparency is good. Let's look into these FISA warrants. Would you agree with the general proposition that a closer and more public look at federal surveillance would be healthy?

CROWLEY: Well, interestingly enough, we had the FISA legislation and the sorts a number of weeks ago. And there was no objection by my Republican counterparts to extend it. That would have been an opportunity to bring these issues up. And they failed to do it. But Carter Page was a person of interest to the FBI well before that. So - before the dossier came out. So he's always been a person of interest to the FBI.

INSKEEP: Congressman, thanks very much. A pleasure talking with you.

CROWLEY: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: Joseph Crowley is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.