WASHINGTON – Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said he is “disappointed” that the omnibus spending bill did not include funding for a border wall because it would help protect the country from “undesirable things” like drugs and illegal crossings.
Perry told PJM he’s “skeptical” that congressional leaders are going to pay for the border wall in the next spending bill.
“I don’t know who stopped it. I wasn’t privy to the negotiations but for all intents and purposes, obviously, it’s not included and I think people are looking at it – and rightly looking at it – saying, ‘well, if it wasn’t included now and you’ve had since Nov. 9, it’s now May 3, that’s a long time, right?’ So if it’s not included now, what makes me believe – and nothing is going to change between now and Sept. 30, right? The Senate is not going to change,” Perry said during an interview on Capitol Hill Wednesday before the omnibus passage.
“Nothing is functionally going to change here regarding membership or ideology, so what’s going to be different then than now? How do you make the case that we can get it then if we can’t get it now? I’m waiting to see what the strategy is. I’m hopeful there’s something I’m missing but I’m skeptical as well. I stand with the president. I want to be with the president. I’m sorely disappointed that it went this way,” he added.
Perry slammed the final budget agreement negotiated by Democrats and Republicans.
“The final product is not in keeping what the president stood for and what most of the American people obviously voted for,” he said.
Perry was asked if the agreement reflected any of the priorities President Trump campaigned on during the election cycle.
“I think the military spending is the one thing we can point to: the military has been decimated, as you know, at least according to people like me and many conservatives and many citizens, the military from a financial standpoint, from an operational capability standpoint, has been decimated. So whether you are on the right or the left, a lot of folks didn’t want to see sequester continue and wanted to see an increase in spending on the military – that’s the one priority that’s reflected,” he said.
“I would also say his interest in combating the opioid abuse or the opioid circumstance is also in this bill, and it’s kind of highlighted front and center. But when you look at border security, when you look at Planned Parenthood funding, when you look at some of the other high-profile statements the president made as things he’s willing and interested in fighting for, obviously they are conspicuously absent,” he added.
Perry, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the majority of people want to see a “physical barrier” at the border after a lack of follow-through on border security from politicians in the past.
“I think the American people are tired of Washington, D.C., promising one thing and then never following through with it. While some people in the country say, well, we don’t need a wall, it’s not the most effective thing, what many Americans see is that policy doesn’t last from administration to administration – and while everybody in Washington, D.C., seems to talk big, it’s never actualized,” Perry told PJM.
“So that’s why they literally want the physical barrier because they know the next politician down the line is probably not going to tear it down and at least they will have something to show for their efforts. And that’s why they want to see the wall, because they have a lack of trust in Washington, D.C. –and I can’t say that I blame them. We have shown no ability or willingness to do it, both Republicans and Democrats, which is why I think they demand a physical barrier,” he added.
The congressman argued that “there’s no ambiguity” about Trump’s promise to build the wall on the southern border to combat drug smuggling and illegal immigration.
“I know also the other side is going to lob things over [the wall], they are going to fly things over, they’re going to tunnel under. But not having anything is like saying, ‘Well, I’m not going to put any sheathing on the studs of the walls of my house because the studs are enough,’ and not expecting the wind and the rain and intruders to come in. No one else does it,” Perry said.
“Your country is just like your house and it needs to be treated as such,” he added. “We need to secure our home and that includes a barrier so we don’t have undesirable things like drugs or illegal people, including terrorists and criminals, coming into our country, and the only thing that really sends a message that we are willing to stop that is a physical barrier. It’s not going to stop every single one but it’s certainly going to stop the casual ones.”
Perry, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was asked if he supports the U.S. government paying for the wall if Mexico does not pick up the tab. The Mexican government has stated that it will not pay for the project.
“I think the American people want it and I think the president said Mexico is going to pay for it. I think he should endeavor to make sure that happens because it was a campaign promise and pledge, and I think people voted accordingly based on that. He at least has to give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, I think they’ll be forgiving but he at least has to give it a try,” Perry said.
“I think the bigger issue, though, is the barrier itself – how it’s paid for is secondary, although he did make a campaign pledge to make sure Mexico pays for it and I think he has to make an active effort in making sure that happens. If he fails on his own accord, that will be assessed one way or another. However, if he attempts it and fails because the Congress doesn’t agree, then I think he can say, ‘Look, I did what I could. If you are unhappy with the outcome, look at your individual members’ votes on that,’” he added.
Despite his disappointment with the spending deal, Perry said it is too early to assess Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) performance.
“I’m not going to discuss that at this point because I just don’t think we have the information,” he said.