U.S. Rep. Scott Perry's first year as a federal lawmaker included a government sequester and shutdown and highly charged, partisan debates over debt, healthcare, and global surveillance.
Serving in a Congress with job approval ratings in the single digits, last year Perry sponsored eight bills and managed to get one non-controversial measure through the House. If it passes the Senate and is signed by the president, that bill will expand the boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park.
The conservative congressman co-sponsored 135 bills, ranging from a measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act to a proposal to bar federal family planning assistance from going to entities that provide abortions that aren't the result of rape, incest, or performed to save the mother's life.
Perry, R-York, also joined a bipartisan legislative team, saw his district office picketed by progressive group MoveOn.org, and participated in a highly contentious on-air interview with MSNBC host Chris Matthews.
Constituents weighed in on all of this through thousands of requests, complaints, and comments directed to Perry's office. Now they can also offer feedback in person through a series of town meetings being held in February, his 13th month in office.
Big issues: Perry said his phone lines were "jammed" during the government shutdown, as they were when the U.S. government was mulling its role in the Syrian conflict. There's a constant flow of correspondence on issues such as economics and health care, he said.
Perry said he's hoping the topic of the five upcoming meetings in York, Cumberland, and Adams counties turns to his votes during last year's budget talks. While he ultimately voted on a compromise that ended the shutdown, he also cast some votes which, depending on which party is asked, caused the shutdown.
"The House of Representatives offered seven different options to the administration which would not have resulted in a shutdown, but the administration said it wouldn't negotiate," Perry said.
He said President Barack Obama has not negotiated with Congress, yet it was he who had been given the "upper hand" in the budget debacle and Republicans who were blamed for shutting down the government.
Many of Perry's constituents are frustrated and unhappy to see the government "out of balance," he said, but they disagree about whether Congress or Obama is to blame.
During the upcoming meetings, Perry will brief residents on the issues currently facing Congress, including the federal budget, job creation and health care. He'll also accept questions on those and other federal issues.
The meetings: The town halls will be held:
Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Springettsbury Township Building, 1501 Mount Zion Road.
Friday, 9-11 a.m. at the Lower Windsor Township Building, 2425 Craley Road.
Friday, 1-3 p.m. at Lemoyne Borough Building, 510 Herman Ave. in Lemoyne.
Monday, 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Hanover Hospital Wellness and Education Center, 400 York St. in Hanover.
Monday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Harrisburg Area Community College's Gettysburg Campus, 731 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg.
— Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.