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Freedom Caucus Member Rep. Ted Yoho Weighs In On Government Shutdown


It's probably fair to say that ending the shutdown now in its 13th day will be priority number one for the new speaker of the House - also probably fair to say that the Republican Freedom Caucus has very different ideas for how to do that than Nancy Pelosi does. Florida Congressman Ted Yoho is a member of the Freedom Caucus. He joins me now from Capitol Hill. Congressman, welcome.

TED YOHO: Hey. Hello, Mary Louise. How are you?

KELLY: I am very well. Thank you, and thanks for joining us. So Democrats control the House now, as you well know. So let's start with what they have put on the table - a spending bill that would fund most of the government through September, a separate measure that would fund the Department of Homeland Security till next month - so basically buying a few weeks for you in Congress and the president to keep debating the border wall but meanwhile allowing the government to reopen. Why is that not a good idea?

YOHO: Well, you know, right now, close to 75 percent of the government's already open and funded. This is a small portion, 24 percent. In that is DHS.

KELLY: That's thousands and thousands of people not getting a paycheck and not doing their jobs, though.

YOHO: Well, it's - they have over 50,000 people, but only 6,000 I think or 9,000 haven't - they've been deemed nonessential. The goal is to get the government open and running. But this goes back to the previous discussion that the president had and we had on border security. This is something that the American people want - is border security. You know, too much emphasis is being put on the wall versus border security. And we need to focus on - what we're trying to do is keep this country safe. Ms. Pelosi...

KELLY: But if I may inject, it's the president...

YOHO: Sure.

KELLY: ...Who's put the emphasis on border security and specifically on the wall. So why not buy...

YOHO: Yeah, he's talked a lot about the wall.

KELLY: ...Yourself a few weeks to talk about that and let the - let everybody go back to work in the meantime?

YOHO: Well, you're going to see that happen, but there will be an agreement - will have to be made on some kind of funding for border security. She has dug in and said no money for the wall, and I think...

KELLY: Pelosi.

YOHO: ...That's - yeah, you can't go forward if you're going to be that adamant in not moving forward. You know, the American people want border security. When we poll people, across the board, Republicans and Democrats, one of - the biggest issue that comes up is security for their families. And so this is something we want to make sure we do, and this is something that Ms. Pelosi and the Democratic Party is using for a partisan issue. We want border security 'cause it's national security. And a wall will be a portion of that, but it's - doesn't have to be all for a wall. So they need to come to the table and, you know, determine what they're going to do. We would support something between...

KELLY: You're saying everybody wants border security. I think - safe to say...

YOHO: Yeah, everybody. I think...

KELLY: ...Nobody wants to see this partial shutdown last forever, which means somebody's going to have to give a little here.

YOHO: Right.

KELLY: What are you prepared to give?

YOHO: Give a little, and so when Ms. Pelosi says that she's not giving any for the, you know, border security basically...

KELLY: Right. And I would love to put this question to Nancy Pelosi, and she's welcome to...

YOHO: I would, too.

KELLY: ...Come on the show anytime. But let me ask you. From where you sit, what are you prepared to give to move this along?

YOHO: Well, I'd - I would be willing - and we've made this public - is, you know, the president's put out there - he wants $5 billion for border security, whether it's a wall. And he has said the wall, but he also says whatever you want to call it, we need border security. And so I think you'll see something between 2, 2 1/2 to $5 billion for some kind of package that will go to border security. And let the people in control at DHS, the border security people, Custom Border Patrol (ph), determine the best way to utilize that money so that this nation is protected.

How many more times are we going to see a Kate Steinle or the officer that just got shot by the guy that had been coming - came into this country illegally twice and was in a sanctuary city? How many more times are we going to allow that to happen to an American citizen?

KELLY: Congressman, let me ask you this in the moments that we have left. I keep circling back to this point, but it's a big one. We are talking about real people here with mortgages and car payments and child care expenses. And what I don't hear any time we interview a lawmaker is that there's an end in sight. Are you prepared to tell those people this could go on for weeks?

YOHO: No 'cause I don't think it'll go on that long. I think you'll see something come up here in the next couple days. I would be surprised if it went beyond this weekend. But again, they have to be willing to agree. And I think this is something we all agree on.

KELLY: Right.

YOHO: We need border security. And if we can agree on that, we can move forward.

KELLY: Florida Congressman and House Freedom Caucus member Ted Yoho, thanks so much for your time.

YOHO: Yes, ma'am. You have a great day.

KELLY: You, too. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.