The 21st Show

Representative Cheri Bustos; NPR’s Scott Simon; How Shutdowns Affect Science Research


Susan Walsh/AP

On The 21st: Congresswoman Cheri Bustos is the fifth-ranking House Democrat and is in charge of making sure the party wins House elections across the country. We'll sit down with her at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C. And, we catch up with NPR host Scott Simon. Plus, around $300 million in funding from the National Science Foundation each year goes to academic researchers in Illinois. How did last month's shutdown affect not just operations but scientific research across the country? 

We’re about six weeks into the new Congress, which has a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. The year started off with a government shutdown and of course, Friday at midnight, is the deadline for lawmakers and the president to avoid another one.

But Congressional leaders are also looking ahead to 2020. Not just because there will be a presidential election, but because every single member of the House, including the Democrats who swept into power this year, will have to win another election.

Cheri Bustos is one of those leaders who’s thinking hard about how to keep the majority that the Democrats have won. After winning her own re-election easily in a district that also voted for President Trump, she was elected chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Today, she’s the fifth ranking Democratic House member.

Representative Bustos represents Illinois’ 17th district  which includes parts of Peoria, Rockford, and the Quad Cities. We spoke with her from the office of the DCCC this morning.


If you’re a regular NPR listener, then you know the voice of Scott Simon. He wakes you up on Saturday mornings, perhaps before you even have your coffee or walk your dog. And he’s been doing this for more than 30 years.

You also may know that before Scott Simon sat on the mic at NPR in DC, he was born and raised in Illinois and worked as the NPR bureau chief in Chicago. And so when we decided to come out to do our week of shows in Washington, we had to extend an invite to Scott to join us. We spoke with him at NPR headquarters in D.C. 


Illinois is home to lots of scientific research, whether it’s the Peoria Ag Lab, Fermi and Argonne National Lab in Chicago’s suburbs, or at our universities. For example, the University of Illinois’ National Center for Supercomputing Applications is right across the street from our Urbana studios. 

But much of this research, and the people who are doing it, depend on funding from the federal government. And a lot of that comes through the National Science Foundation. The NSF spends a total of about $300 million a year on academic research in Illinois alone.

It also means that when the government shuts down, even partially, there are ripple effects for scientists all over the country. 

Fleming Crim is the chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation. We spoke with him at NPR in Washington D.C. 

Story source: WILL