Local House reps defend votes as government shutdown looms (LIVE VIDEO from Senate floor)

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

York County's congressional delegate and soon-to-be congressman both supported a spending package that includes $5.7 billion for a border wall — legislation that lacks enough votes in the Senate and could trigger a government shutdown Friday night.

The House passed the legislation Thursday, Dec. 20, with a near-party-line vote. The package, which also includes $8 billion in disaster relief, would keep the government funded through Feb. 8.

Senators had passed their own bipartisan bill earlier in the week to keep the government running, with border security at existing levels, $1.3 billion, but no money for the wall. That bill also would extend government funding through Feb. 8.

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, released a statement Thursday voicing his support of the funding after his affirmative vote. 

Perry, who represents York County in the 10th Congressional District, said the measure helps in "stopping thousands from dying of drug overdoses" from drugs brought through the southern border and "helping Pennsylvania's seniors" by preventing property tax hikes due to "increased illegal populations" in school districts.

He also cited "protecting America's working poor," who "watch their wages fall with the influx of low-skilled labor" as a reason for his vote.

Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster, echoed Perry's support in a statement released the same day. Smucker won re-election last month in the 11th Congressional District, which was redrawn last year to include southern York County.

“Our border needs to be secured," he wrote. "Putting off fully funding our border security will endanger the American people... The American people deserve to feel safe in our country and I’m glad the House agrees."

But the bill is expected to come short of the 60 votes required to pass in the Senate, which Trump said in a Friday morning tweet would lead to a "very long shutdown."

With 51 Republicans in the Senate, nine Democrats would be needed to get the measure passed. Without the votes, parts of the government will shut down tonight.

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, who is planning to vote against the measure, condemned Trump's pressure to fund the wall and urged him to support Senate's previous proposal.

"We're moving toward a Trump shutdown," Casey said. "... Instead of creating chaos, Trump should support the bipartisan funding bill. ... It provides over $1 billion for border security funding, but not a wall that security experts say won't work."

Casey's Republican colleague, Sen. Pat Toomey, may not completely agree with the president's plans for the wall, but he supports the additional funding, spokesman Steve Kelly said in a statement Friday. 

"Senator Toomey is not opposed to additional funding for border security so long as taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and effectively to keep Americans safe and enforce the law," he said.

Kelly added, "Senator Toomey does not think building a 2,000 mile continuous wall is practical, but he does support the increased use of physical barriers, surveillance technology, and border patrol agents to secure our border."

The shutdown would affect about 25 percent of federal agencies that rely on Congress, including the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation, Justice and more.

The remaining 75 percent of the government is funded through Sept. 2019.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.