tv Conversations w Retiring Members - Rep. Joe Crowley D-NY CSPAN October 14, 2018 1:10am-1:38am EDT
the aaa or minor leagues when it comes to elected office or politics. going to congress was the major leagues. my dad was very in tune with what that was all about. my mom was just very proud. but my fatherl, more than my mom was very in tune. this meant international relations. it meant supporting the military. it meant the budgets. it meant so much in terms of what you can do for your constituents back home and make life for them better. steve: can you explain how the seat opened up and why you decided to run? rep. crowley: it was 1998. my predecessor decided not to run. i was selected by the community of vacancies to fill the vacancy and run in his place. i was preparing to get married in october of that year, which we did. coming up on the 20th
anniversary october 9. we've been married 20 years. i think it's something that's been in my dna in terms of wanting to come to washington. i've been involved in the state legislature on ireland, in particular. something i was always engaged in. it was something i zeroed in early in on. i got on the foreign affairs committee and served there for 20 years. i was a big part of the irish peace process, which continues to this day, something i'm very proud of. steve: from your experiences, what has been the hardest part of being in public life? rep. crowley: i think for me, it has been, in more recent years, media and your family. not so much about what they write about me, but what people read about. how that can be misinterpreted
sometimes, having to explain. role i playedgger in washington, the more focus and attention was placed on me. i think that was one of the more difficult things, kind of balancing. wanting to check my family and understanding i'm a public figure, and how we deal with that. steve: over 20 years, you've cast hundreds and thousands of votes. is there any vote you regret? -- you regret? rep. crowley: no question. the one vote i do regret is the vote to go to war in iraq. i wanted to believe my president. i was old-school at the time. you don't think of george washington, abraham lincoln, teddy roosevelt, john kennedy, and the embodiment of that office. when i'm given information and facts, i'll be there to go
along. i wanted to believe the executive and the president. i was disappointed by that. later, as it turns out, they were wrong. there were no weapons of mass distraction. -- destruction. i regret that. steve: what is the lesson for members of congress in the future if they are spaced with the same -- faced with the same type of vote? rep. crowley: we have to come to grips with the fact what the truth is, is something you have guess.ore suspect of, i naive, want to sound too but there was some innocence that was lost, coming out of the 9/11 experience, my cousin was killed. i knew many people that were killed in the attack on new york, and it was very personal.
wanting to do everything i could to make that right, to make that whole as best i could. that included going after those who made them responsible for it, and those who want to cause on to us again in some way. be,ink my advice would you've got to do all the homework and you have to go with your gut, but just don't take for granted what you're being told is absolutely true. steve: what do you remember about that day? your cousin, and what happened? rep. crowley: it was one of the most upsetting days of my life. we all have tragedies happen to us. i was on the 8:30 shuttle at laguardia airport. i got a text. my blackberry at the time was supposed to be off. it was on.
my chief of staff said, where are you? i said i'm on the plane. he said call me immediately. planesd him he said two hit the world trade center. you're far enough you can see the city. i could see the smoke coming from the 20 hours. i was -- twin towers. i used my phone on the plane. you had plane phones. to tell fellow passengers something was going on. then an announcement over the intercom by the pilot that the airways have been shut down. as i got off the plane, you could sense that something in or miss had happened. and when i went outside, waiting for me was my brother and my chief of staff. they both showed up at the same time. and we saw the
first building go down. i went home thinking i hope my cousins are both ok. they are both firemen. i thought my cousin wouldn't be in the buildings because he was able telling chief. they give orders. but it was john. mike was off that day. his last known words were, let me off here. i'm going to try to make a difference. that was my cousin, john. that was a devastating day. horrible days. steve: what kind of guy was he, your cousin? rep. crowley: he was, at the time, he was 42. married with two children, big men now themselves. law school graduate. brilliant guy. loved to do a little acting. he was kind of a cross between richard gere look to him. he had a shock of white hair.
he was a big guy, 6'3". we played guitar together. he and his brother introduced me to bruce springsteen back in the mid-1970's. we talk each other irish music. we were into the beatles. them and the stones were a big part of his life. he was three years older than i was, but he was bigger than i was. think he was one of the youngest telling chiefs in the history of the fdny. he probably would have been the head sunday. he loved being a fireman. his family came from a family of firefighters. not a day goes by i don't think of johnny, who and what he would be today. steve: you mentioned to bruce
springsteen on primary night in june. why does he resonate with so many people? rep. crowley: i think he resonates, certainly with me, he spaced to working men and women. to space to -- he speaks real-life solutions and overcoming problems. not only layout the depressing aspects of life, but bring out the triumphs of life, as well. that's something people can relate to. it's magical for me. it was magic when i was, my first concert in madison square garden, seeing him attempt to go from the blue seats. we were in the rafters, down to the red seats, and getting kicked out. they wouldn't kick you out of the arena. they would just put you back in your seats. he was magical. magnetic, as well. i think the balance of that, the promised land, badlands, born to
run, rosalita. and theyplifting, speak so well about the human condition. that was something i was attracted to. i always felt a kindred spirit to him. i met him a couple times. steve: what is he like in person? rep. crowley: he's a genuinely decent person, and attentive. i got to meet him and we had a conversation when he received the presidential medal of freeman -- medal of freedom at the white house with president obama. he might not remember meeting me, but i remember the conversation we had, talking about the songs he had. does the bus stop at 82nd street? i know he was recording at the west side. i went to powell memorial high school on the west side of manhattan. he was recording the river when
i was going to school six blocks away. i was asking him questions about that. just taking that opportunity to learn what i could about his relationship to new york. he's from new jersey but spent a lot of time in new york city. steve: the one question we've been asking every retiree member is this. the state of politics is today, complete the sentence. rep. crowley: i been here long enough to see when things have actually worked in the regular order. we speak of regular order, when things went to the committee. there was an honest up or down vote. even in the minority, we could affect the outcome in a bipartisan way. that has changed here. that doesn't exist anymore. we just saw this tax bill. we call it a tax scam, a devastating bill for new york city and state.
how it passed on the floor without any democratic input whatsoever. that certainly didn't happen when rotter nagin -- ronald reagan and tip o'neill talked about immigration reform. we've seen issues weather was an opportunity to work in a bipartisan way. much was driven by the resident and how he had -- the president and how he has approached politics. it's made it much more divisive for republican party to work with democratics to find solutions. steve: your primary race still gets a lot of attention. what happened? what were you thinking when you found out you lust? -- what you lost? rep. crowley: there's probably a lot written about the statistics coming out. some had to do with the timing of the primary, the date. being separated. i think turnout was an issue.
mythe end of the day, opponent ran an effective campaign. this is on me. i did not, i took for granted that people knew my record. they knew my a competence. they didn't speak enough on the campaign trail. i had to amend his people working for me, but i take responsibility. steve: do you have another race in you? rep. crowley: i don't know yet. i'll wait and see. i love public service. the one thing i will miss his waking up and having a voice from my constituents up in new york, especially to protect them from this president, and to do all i could to prevent bad things happening to them. under this environment. i don't know yet. i don't want to say no. i just don't know yet. steve: what is next for you?
rep. crowley: that i don't know either. i'm going to fill out my term here, early january. i feel confident i'll have something meaningful to do in the future. i don't know if it will be political or not, but i have more to do and more to contribute. steve: your name has been mentioned for being speaker of the house. were you interested in the job? rep. crowley: i think every member of congress would elect themselves as speaker at some point. that would have been great, too, have that come to fruition someday. but, got a different plan for me. i'm prepared for that, as well, to see what opportunities lie ahead. steve: you've worked with a lot of presidents. you came here when bill clinton was in the white house. who did you work with the closest? rep. crowley: it's interesting.
i've had great relationships with bill clinton, with george bush even. worked very closely with him on a number of issues, and barack obama. i would have to say the obama administration because my greatest achievements as a congressman occurred with the affordable care act, were very -- worked very closely with the obama administration, getting the votes we needed to pass it. one of the greatest a competence of my career here in washington. we delivered for millions of people with no insurance to have it. it's come under great attack by the republicans. when democrats take back the house, i believe health care is a right, not a privilege. we have to make it more universal, that coverage. i hope that is something the next congress does take up in democratic control, we lead in
providing more coverage, not less. steve: your fellow new yorker is in the white house. what do you think of donald trump? rep. crowley: i don't think it's any secret he's a great disappointment to the american people in terms of the office. he has done great damage to that office. i think as i mentioned earlier, the ability for us, not that they're perfect, not that any president is perfect, but that we hold them to a high standard. this president has damaged that standard tremendously, in my opinion. i never thought it would be him. i think it's because my experience back home, i never wanted to be close to donald trump. washer it was whether he mobile in real estate, i never asked him for support or resources when i ran for office.
i always maintained my distance. i was disappointed in his like a father figure in terms of the city. people step up to protect new york. i didn't see it then. i certainly don't see it now with the passive this tax bill. it's a done real damage to new york city and new york state. someone who was the son of new york city in new york state was to damage the state. steve: you worked with hillary clinton. what was she like to work with? rep. crowley: tremendous. she wanted to do things and get things accomplished and worked on behalf of the mutual interest of our constituents. i have a relationship with chuck schumer, and senator gillibrand as well. but i have a special relationship with hillary clinton. that stems back for her staying at my house when she was doing a tour.
she stayed overnight, got to know myself. we have a new board son in the name -- naval academy. she's blown away by that, this little guy she held in her hands is now in the naval academy. it was a genuine relationship and friendship, as well, i maintain to that day. steve: why do you think she lost? rep. crowley: it's a question often asked to me. she did win the popular vote by 3 million, but president trump became president of the. i recognize that. with, failed to connect we as the party, and she is the candidate, to connect with people's lives and what they were dealing with. the opioid abuse, when we bailed out the big banks and saved the big three auto companies, we
really didn't connect with 100,000 people who lost their jobs in the saving of those three companies. and their lives and the destruction and devastation. and i think we as a party overall were not connecting to that. the president, the con man i think he is, was able to step in and somehow relate with them better than hillary did. i think it was wrong. if anyone, hillary clinton actually came from a middle-class family. she understood her father worked everyday and understood the in's and out's of everyday life for americans. it's tragic that pennsylvania, state like minnesota, wisconsin, michigan, went the other way. steve: conmen? -- con man? rep. crowley: his whole life, he worked with casinos, his use of bankruptcy as a tool in
business, his university, his product lines. all those things were, you know, they were successful at one end, but very flighty. never stood the test of time. steve: besides music and politics, what our joe crowley's passions? rep. crowley: my family, my kids. my wife and i have three children. my older son collin is 19. my daughter kenzie is 17 going on 18, looking at colleges soon. my little guy william is in the seventh grade. really wonderful kids. i'm very proud of what we produced. kids are full of empathy and care about other people. and they're not selfish sheink casey in particular, is more than i am -- with them
more than i am because of this job. they are quality people. steve: if you could change one thing about the house of representatives, what would you change? rep. crowley: i think there's a lack of interaction between members of the republican conference and the house democratic caucus. i don't know if there's much that can be done to change that. i think a lot of good laws were the had somems of, effect of making us more distant from each other. people actually get a chance to get to know folks on the other trips, weatherme if you sit on the foreign affairs committee, which i did. i had an opportunity to work with republican colleagues, including mike pence, where we traveled to iraq and afghanistan in the mid to thousands. we got to know each other better. otherwise we wouldn't have had a
chance to meet mike pence or get to know him. this really nothing here that brings people together, socially even. even from a delegation standpoint. i know some of the members of the new york delegation, i don't know anyone from the new york allegation. -- delegation. that's unusual. that's something i pride myself on, even in a bipartisan way. it's become much what difficult to do today. finding some way to bring together, on a basis findings more in common than we realize every. -- realize. steve: leader pelosi comes speaker again. what advice would you give her? what is her biggest challenge? rep. crowley: i learned one thing about nancy pelosi. she doesn't need advice. she's been there before.
she's been historically the speaker of the house, the first female to do that. putting that aside, she is probably the best speaker in the century. she's a force of nature. i don't want to pretend to suggest i have to give nancy pelosi advice. and would say we need not only to address the issue of health care, which is paramount. we need to do something about infrastructure in the united states. and preparing our country for what lies ahead. that means investing in infrastructure. roads, tunnels, bridges, schools, dams, railway. it's not just about investing in america. it's investing in jobs, real jobs for america. they can send their kids to college, help them pay, give
them a real living wage. those kinds of jobs develop when you invest in infrastructure. steve: to that point, can chuck schumer and nancy pelosi and mitch mcconnell, can they work together? can a democrat house and senate work with a republican white house? rep. crowley: it has happened before. we saw it with ronald reagan and tip o'neill. we saw it during the george bush years. some of the damage happened during the obama years when mitch mcconnell said we'll make him a long-term president, and then did nothing to help him legislatively. we saw the president have to move towards executive orders. i do think there could be an opportunity, especially on the infrastructure front, to find common ground and get something done. steve: finally, for the individual who will hold this seat, what is your advice? rep. crowley: my advice is that
you come here, it's a pretty humbling place. you have to work, not only within your own caucus but with the republican conference as well, achieving in getting things done. take time to learn. get good assignments. you have to work with your colleagues to get your legislation through. you have to help them get their legislation through. find out what they care about and help them. that will come back in droves to help you. you the began by asking memory of your first day. what will go through your memory your final day? rep. crowley: it will be a sad day. at the same time, i will look forward to the future. i will miss the people, not just my colleagues. i will miss my staff, certainly. i'm going to miss the people that police officers, the folks who work here that i see all the time and interact with, they are
the support staff. they sweep the floors, cleaned the offices. i'm going to miss waking up knowing that i speak on behalf of of 750,000 people. i was their voice, their eyes and ears in washington. i'm going to miss that. steve: >> c-span also set down with retiring congressman gene green to discuss his political. he served in the house its next -- since 1993. this is a half an hour. -- since 1993. this is a half an hour. steve: 26 years in the house of representatives, you decided to retire. why? rep. green: 20 years before that in the state legislature and 46 years in public service. i've been married 48 years. only had two years.
we decided we wanted to spend more time with our family. four grandchildren that don't live in the houston area, two of them live in south texas, six-hour drive. two of them lived in omaha, nebraska, which is a two hour flight. it's a support system for your children. steve: how did the texas legislature prepare you for congress? rep. green: it prepared to negotiate, having people from different walks of life. i come from an urban area in houston. and in texas, we have a large rural area. i had no idea of agriculture except i like to eat. you get to know them. lature meetsgis only every two years for 130 days. whenever the house is in allion, everybody's there,
150 house members and senators. in congress, we have committees going on, floor debate, but we all go and vote. its different. much different way to deal with legislative process. steve: you came to washington in 1993. we had a new president, bill clinton. what do you remember of those first months? rep. green: the first months are tough on a new member. each are different. back then, i used to joke with it under two different constitutions in texas and washington because the house of representatives was organized so mr. finley in the statehouse -- so much more differently than in the statehouse in texas. so much of the community was education and labor. i was on the education committee when i was a state senator. i fit in and worked