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Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley Says He Won't Vote For Senate Spending Proposal


In the House of Representatives today, conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are staking out some common ground. They're both balking for different reasons at the ambitious two-year budget deal that senators have agreed to. Conservative Republicans don't like the fact that the deal increases spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. Liberal Democrats don't like the fact that the deal does not include anything on immigration.


Ari's going to get to the Republican view in a minute. First let's go to Congressman Joe Crowley of New York. He is chair of the Democratic caucus, and he joins me from Capitol Hill. Congressman, welcome.

JOSEPH CROWLEY: Thank you very much - great to be with you.

KELLY: Let me set the stage here. Senators hammered out this plan which they are describing in glowing terms, saying it's bipartisan; it is a compromise; it's the way forward. It is proving a tough sell with your colleagues in the House. So let me start by asking you. Are you prepared to vote for it?

CROWLEY: At this point, no. I'm not prepared - in fact, I'm not going to vote for this bill if it comes to the floor. I think...

KELLY: And why not?

CROWLEY: Well, I think you first have to look at the fact that the rules of the House and the Senate are completely different. And the commitments that were made by McConnell was a commitment to bring a DACA bill to the floor - an immigration bill to the floor of the Senate. That same commitment was not made in any way, shape or form here in the House of Representatives.

KELLY: Would you be prepared to vote for this bill if a similar deal emerged, if Paul Ryan said, I commit; we will have a debate on immigration and DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program?

CROWLEY: I also think that aside from the DACA issue, there are shortcomings in this bill. There are some very good things in this bill. But I think in terms of the commitment to domestic spending, there are shortcomings in it that are not reflective of the values of the Democratic caucus.

I think the fact that Republican conservatives are balking because they don't want to increase the domestic spending - that's clear. And I don't believe that this actually goes far enough. At the same time, it's also not paid for. It adds an additional almost $300 billion to our deficit and to our national debt - unpaid for. We just did over $1.5 trillion in the tax bill that gave - 82 percent went to the wealthiest 1 percent in the United States. And So...

KELLY: Congressman, though, forgive me. The reality is you all are working against a clock. The government shuts down at midnight tonight unless...


KELLY: ...You strike a deal. Should keeping the government open become the top priority at this stage?

CROWLEY: I'd only disagree in the sense that I haven't noticed the need for a deal with Democrats in the most recent past. They didn't need Democrats to pass their legislation when it came to tax reform. They have the overwhelming majority of the votes in the House of Representatives. The question is whether or not they could put a bill on the floor that's reflective of their values. If they want my vote and Democrat - and I think the majority of Democratic votes, a bill on the House floor should reflect the values that Democrats stand for. And we don't see that as of yet.

KELLY: But at the moment, is there anything on the floor other than the Senate broker deal, anything that has a chance of averting a government shutdown by midnight?

CROWLEY: That's really quite frankly up to the House Republicans. You know, we don't know. We haven't yet seen the - what's going to pass the Senate, quite frankly. They're still debating it. We won't know until it passes, whether it passes or not. What I'm suggesting is they control the House, the Senate and the presidency. I don't - for crying out loud, why they can't actually govern is beyond me. And the notion - idea to blame Democrats in the House when they have the overwhelming majority - it's really incumbent upon them to pass their budget. It's not our responsibility to do that. It's the responsibility of the governing party to do that. And they have failed miserably. We've...

KELLY: Although...

CROWLEY: ...Gone from week to week or month to month with continuous CRs, and that's no way to govern.

KELLY: As you know, Democrats took a great deal of heat for forcing a government shutdown a few weeks ago. Are you prepared to take the heat again if government shuts down at midnight?

CROWLEY: I think it's important to note, again, that in the Senate, five Republicans voted against that bill. They didn't have a majority of their own members supporting that bill. So to blame Democrats solely - I know that's the narrative that's out there. But I do think - when we talk about a moral imperative that I think that the issue of DACA is - and an economic imperative for our country as well - these are issues that need to be addressed. And they continue to say they'll get to it, they'll get to it. But they have never put an immigration bill on the floor of the House of Representatives. They've never done it. So for Paul Ryan to say, don't worry; we'll do something; we're going to get something done, I'm sorry. Talk is cheap. I want to see the bill put to the floor.

KELLY: Congressman, thank you for your time.

CROWLEY: Thank you.

KELLY: That's the chair of the House Democratic caucus, New York Democrat Joe Crowley. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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