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It's going to be a big week in politics. Here's what to keep your eye on.


Striking autoworkers, a Republican presidential debate, a looming government shutdown and impeachment. There is a lot going on in politics this week, and there is a lot at stake for the economy and the basic functioning of the federal government. So we have invited NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales and NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez to walk us through what to expect this week. Hey to both of you.



CHANG: All right, Franco, let's start with you. So President Biden is traveling to Detroit tomorrow, where he's going to be joining autoworkers on the picket line. This is a big political move for him, right?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, I mean, it's a big deal. I mean, it appears to be the first time that a sitting president has walked a picket line. You know, Biden likes to call himself the most pro-union president ever. But really, until a few weeks ago, he had been relatively quiet on the negotiations between the United Auto Workers and the Big Three auto companies. But he came out very strongly on the side of the union once the strike began. And this trip, as you said, has turned into a big political event with implications for 2024. Biden is going to Detroit a day before former President Donald Trump plans to travel there to also meet with union workers. And now we don't know the entire scope of Trump's visit, such as whether he'll meet with workers or if he'll join the picket line. But it does go to show how important these blue-collar union workers are to both campaigns. I mean, I'll just note that Biden didn't join the picket lines in Hollywood and the strikes involving the writers...

CHANG: Right.

ORDOÑEZ: ...And screenwriters, though he did applaud the deal.

CHANG: Well, also, let's remind everybody that Trump is going to be skipping the Republican debate yet again to be in Detroit, right?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. I mean, it's another example of how Trump is looking beyond the Republican primaries and focusing more and more attention on Biden. Trump is looking more and more likely to be the Republican nominee for president or for the Republican Party. And he doesn't want to leave any political oxygen for those rivals. So this trip to Michigan is a bit of counterprogramming for the debate. I mean, just today at a rally in South Carolina, he told Republicans that they shouldn't waste their time watching debates with candidates who are so far behind him. And they are. I mean, it's not unlike last debate, where Trump scheduled an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. I mean, he's really just not going to give them any room. He's going to keep all the focus on his campaign as much as he can.

CHANG: Yeah. All right. Well, over to you, Claudia, we are just - what? - a little more than five days away from seeing a lapse in funding for the government. Is a shutdown inevitable at this point?

GRISALES: It could be. Congress was largely gone for the weekend, and they're not due to return until tomorrow. Now, some House Republicans met on Capitol Hill over the weekend, but it was to work on a separate focus on permanent funding. This is not even for temporary stopgap funding that would keep the government open past Sunday. So that's going to be a challenge there in terms of trying to beat this deadline. The Senate, however, is trying to see if they can look at some sort of legislative vehicle, see if they can break up what we're seeing as a stalemate in the House with Republicans struggling to come to agreement to find some sort of temporary measure to keep the government open and avoid this government shutdown. There's differences, though, how long this temporary funding should go, if it's several weeks or longer. And there's debate over whether there should be new aid for Ukraine as well as for public disasters that we've seen stretching from Maui in Hawaii to Vermont.

CHANG: Right. I feel like we keep seeing this movie over and over again.


CHANG: Looming government shutdown. So among lawmakers, who is leading things at this point? Is anyone in charge?

GRISALES: That is a great question. Maybe we find out by the end of the week. Now...

CHANG: Nice.

GRISALES: ...The Republican-led House has tried to take the lead, but this past week we saw them fumble over and over again just trying to find consensus within their own party for a partisan bill to keep the government open. Meanwhile, the Senate is looking if they should try and take the lead here, try and force legislation to the House, a bipartisan bill, if they can find that agreement in time before the shutdown and force a vote in the House. But this is going to test, for example, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his role in his party with challenges to the decisions he could make here - for example, if he would take up a bipartisan temporary stopgap measure. So these are a lot of steps and not enough time.

CHANG: Exactly. Meanwhile, a lot of other things are happening in Congress. Like, House Republicans will be holding their first hearing in their impeachment inquiry of President Biden. What can we expect from that?

GRISALES: Right. This is going to be our first opportunity to get a sense where this impeachment inquiry could go. It's being led by the House Oversight Committee. Chairman Jim Comer in that panel will lead that Thursday hearing. It's titled "The Basis For An Impeachment Inquiry For The President" (ph). Now, this is tied to Hunter Biden and his business dealings. And Republicans have repeatedly tried to allege that President Biden had some sort of wrongdoing tied to this. They have not been able to prove this. So this will be our first look to see if they have anything new to show for these claims.

CHANG: And, Franco, just to stay on impeachment here, how is the White House responding to this inquiry so far?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, they're fighting back and doing so in stronger ways than they have before. I mean, Biden has largely tried to stay out of the fray when it came to allegations involving his son Hunter. But now that it's an impeachment inquiry, you know, the White House is pressing back. You know, they're calling it extreme politics at its worst. And they've assembled a team of experts, lawyers and press gurus to defend the president. And we're really seeing that in the coordinated response to the accusations and how they're trying to turn the Republican allegations, in many cases, to their own political advantage.

CHANG: That is NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez and NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales. Thank you to both of you.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you.

GRISALES: Thank you much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.