- Perry will seek election in the new 10th congressional district after the PA Supreme Court released a new map earlier this week.
- Perry is open to an immigration deal that includes a permanent protected status for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program if it includes border security measures.
- Perry does not support banning the AR-15.
- Perry on why he voted against the budget deal: “I don’t think we should be put in a position of choosing to fund the military or bankrupt the country.”
By Jamie Welch, Editor-in-Chief
Scott Perry, U.S Representative for Pennsylvania’s fourth congressional district, sat down with The Gettysburgian’s podcast “On Target” Tuesday for a wide ranging interview covering subjects including immigration, gun safety and gun control, the mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay Hotel last October, redistricting, and federal budgeting.
Perry was elected to the House in 2012 after serving as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for six years. Perry is a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard and served a tour of duty in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The full interview will be available in the fifteenth episode of the show to be released later this week.
Immigration and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Last week, a series of votes on various proposals to protect beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in exchange for certain border security and other measures each failed in the Senate, and the deadline to take action on the DACA program is March 5. Perry said that he would support extending the DACA program if such an extension were tied to increased border security measures similar to those outlined in the Goodlatte-Labrador immigration bill that’s been floating around the House since early January. The bill includes permanent status for DACA recipients in exchange for a border wall, an end to family-based immigration, and an end to the visa diversity lottery system.
“For such a policy that is as far reaching as it is, I think we all know that it’s going to take the Senate more than a week to come up with something,” Perry said. “But at the same time I think the House should act…so we can show the Senate we can pass something, we can find a solution, and then we can urge them to get onboard with that and take some leadership.”
Perry suggested using a piece of technology from his military days called an aerostat to patrol the portions of the border where a wall is impractical, like rivers. The aerostat is essentially a balloon on a tether with a camera on it that goes up in the air and allows for easy and remote surveillance of large areas of land.
“If you could put series of those up, you wouldn’t need as much personnel…but you can maintain continuous observation of the border so if there are incursions, whether it’s drug, whether it’s contraband or some other type or whatever, you can interdict that and it allows you to be more efficient and you don’t have to change the physical environment,” Perry said.
Perry did express empathy for DACA recipients who moved with their parents at a young age, but said he would not support a stand-alone codification of DACA without additional measures.
“You hate to put it in the terms of exchange, right, because these are people’s lives,” he said, “and I don’t know but I can almost imagine one day they woke up and they went to do something and somebody said ‘Well you can’t do that, where’s your citizenship,’ and they went home and they said ‘Mom…dad, where’s my citizenship,’ and they found out then that they didn’t have it.”
Perry said that, ultimately, the House will have to reach a deal in which everyone may not like all components.
“Unfortunately the way Washington works is you put a piece of legislation together, and you get the votes to pass it, and that’s where you say you’ll accept this with that,” Perry added.
Last week, a mass shooting killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The perpetrator allegedly used an AR-15. Not surprisingly, this tragedy has reignited the debate over gun safety and gun control policies. Perry is a member of the NRA, whose political action fund gave him a 93% rating during the 2016 election cycle and has donated a total of $8,500 to his congressional campaigns since 2012.
Perry says that he doesn’t support banning AR-15s because doing so would not end mass shootings.
“If you just look at the Virginia Tech shooting…the man used a pistol and killed almost twice as many people. If banning it doesn’t end the mass shootings, then what have we accomplished?” he said. “You don’t ban the car for drunk drivers, right? The car didn’t do it, it was the driver of the car that did it.”
Perry also suggested that there are legitimate uses for an AR-15-style weapon.
“I think in the Texas church shooting, an AR-15 stopped the killer, if I remember correctly, so there’s two sides to this equation,” he said. “My point is that we ought to be talking about a solution that will actually work.”
Perry suggested hardening schools like we have hardened airports and courthouses using measures like metal detectors and co-located police officers on school campuses.
“We’ve hardened those targets, and yet we’ve left our schools open, why is that?” he asked.
Perry criticized the lack of response by the FBI to multiple tips that Nikolas Cruz was a danger to society and threatening school shootings.
“We as government officials have encouraged them to do that, they saw something, they said something, but the authorities that were supposed to be in jurisdiction of that didn’t do either anything or, obviously, enough,” Perry said.
Alleged Foreign Terrorism Evidence in the Las Vegas Shooting
Perry appeared on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight last month and said that he had been made aware of credible evidence that foreign terrorists were connected to the attack at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas last October. At the time, he did not have any evidence to share with the public to substantiate his claims, but did say that information would be released in the coming days. To date, no such evidence has come to light.
Perry did not know when or if the evidence would be made available to the public, but did share the source of the information: a briefing authored by an intelligence analyst that he read in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).
“The information that I received in that briefing differs from the information that you’re seeing in open source news,” Perry said. “It’s not in my care, so I can’t release it, but I’m hopeful that you will get the same information that I have received.”
Redistricting in Pennsylvania
Perry is up for reelection this year, and his current district — the fourth– was split into three new districts as part of the new congressional district map imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after it held that the current map violates the state constitution. Adams County joins counties to the west in the new 13th, southern York County joins Lancaster County in the new 11th, and northern York County joins eastern Cumberland County and Dauphin County in the new 10th.
While Perry acknowledged that a court challenge at the federal level appears likely, he said that he needs to start making plans and circulating petitions for re-election now and confirmed that he intends to run for election in the new 10th district, which includes his current residence, Dillsburg.
“I disagree with the process of this map,” Perry said. “And again, legislators, like me, we don’t have any input into the map, we’re not supposed to and it’s inappropriate that we would weigh in. But, I think it is appropriate that we follow a constitutional process, because not everyone is going to be happy, no matter who draws the map. That’s why you have a process, and it seems to me that there is no provision for the Supreme Court, in the constitution, to draw the map.”
Perry also questioned the timing of the decision by the PA Supreme Court.
“I’m concerned about not only about people seeking office like myself trying to put something together, and not really understanding, but you’ve also got to consider things too like absentee ballots for service members that are overseas and the timeline…when they don’t even know what the districts are right now or who their potential representatives may be, and if they can’t vote within the timeframe…then I think that this probably should be revisited,” he said. “The previous map, approved by that same supreme court, seemed to be fine for six years.”
The Federal Budget
The week before last, the House and the Senate passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which ended the second government shutdown of 2018 and funds the government through September 2019 and includes $300 billion in spending increases, lifting caps imposed in 2011, and increasing spending both on military and domestic programs as well as funding disaster relief. Perry, an avowed fiscal conservative and a member of the House Freedom Caucus, voted against the bill.
“Our country’s going broke, we’re 20 trillion dollars in debt, and it requires lawmakers to make some tough choices and prioritize what we’ve gotta spend our money on.” he said. “The military is a constitutional imperative, we’ve gotta keep our country safeguarded — that’s not to say that the military doesn’t have it’s own problems and inefficiencies, fraud, waste, or abuse that need to be dealt with. But it’s really hard to deal with it when you’re funding it a month at a time. And so, I was supportive of funding the military and then trying to work out some of these other [domestic spending] differences. My other colleagues weren’t and they were willing to spend the additional money — I simply was not.”
He closed with a rejoinder aimed toward Democrats who insisted that domestic programs warranted spending increases along with the military.
He said, “I don’t think we should be put in a position of choosing to fund the military or bankrupt the country.”
Managing News Editor Benjamin Pontz contributed to this report.