Four days into a federal government shutdown, the York County legislator whose votes were among those leading to the closure is sticking to his guns.
But Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, said his fight is about spending and isn't solely focused on dismantling the Affordable Care Act, so-called "Obamacare."
"We have to be realistic," he said. "We don't have the Senate, and we don't have the administration. This is the president's signature legislation. ... For me, the issue is spending. Obamacare can be part of that issue, but it doesn't have to be part of that issue."
Perry said he has been willing to negotiate, but President Barack Obama and the Senate haven't reciprocated.
"I'm not so rigid that I won't vote for something contingent on Obamacare," he said. "If we could get a continuing resolution and it didn't have anything to do with Obamacare in it but it dealt with spending, I'd be happy to look at it."
But the congressman also said he's confident most of the voters in his district support his decision; he told a party-loyal crowd at a county Republican dinner Thursday night that the work opposing the Affordable Care Act is "a mission to save our nation."
Earlier, on the drive to the annual fall dinner, the congressman said his votes weren't intended to shut down the government, though he and the other Republicans pushing cuts to the Affordable Care Act had been warned a shutdown would result. Perry said the votes were, rather, intended to "keep the government open and do something about government spending."
What effect? And whether the shutdown will affect Perry and those who've subscribed to the strategy remains to be seen, as fingers are still being pointed in the ongoing debacle.
According to the Associated Press, congressional insiders said there's little hustle to resolve the issue for Republicans or Democrats from areas where there's not much competition on election day. With a Republican stronghold in the 4th Congressional District, a district consistently rated "safe" for Republicans, that's Perry's country.
Thursday afternoon, shoppers out and about in Springettsbury Township said they were weary of politics and politicians, who they wish would have worked together to avoid a shutdown.
Republicans Barry Ort and Sherry Ort of West York both voted for Perry last November. With the congressman less than a year into the job, Barry Ort said he's hoping the shutdown vote was "because he's a new guy and doesn't know any better."
Not that Ort is a fan of "Obamacare," which he said "kinda sucks because it's Communism as far as I'm concerned." The 64-year-old retiree doesn't mind that the congressman is fighting against the healthcare law.
What bothers Ort is that Perry and other members of Congress just had a long vacation, "which should have been spent at the White House, working this out," he said.
Sherry Ort, 61, said she's also "not thrilled" about the healthcare law. But she's even less pleased at the lack of discourse playing out in the national scene.
"It used to be the Democrats and Republicans could get together and work things out," she said. "If we continue the 'My Side' and 'Your Side,' this country is going to be ripped apart."
But the couple disagreed on whether Perry would get their votes again. She said she would like to wait and see what Perry does in the rest of his term. He advocated a clean sweep of incumbents.
The couple, standing in front of Starbucks, engaged in this exchange:
Barry Ort: "I think we need to clean out."
Sherry Ort: "Oh, but then we'll get worse ones in."
Barry Ort: "Then knock them out, too, and knock the next ones out until we get someone good."
To drive home the point, Barry Ort called out as he and his wife walked away, "We gotta clean¥'em out, all of¥'em, both sides."
Phone calls: Perry said constituents are calling his office about a variety of issues related to the shutdown, including those who tell him to "hold the line," those who are angry about the shutdown, and those who aren't getting any pay as a result.
The volume isn't unprecedented, he said, with the office having fielded more concerns regarding the crisis in Syria.
And though Perry soundly defeated Democrat Harry Perkinson by about 55,000 ballots, with 61 percent of the vote, the freshman Republican said he believes there will be consequences to the shutdown.
"Both sides are getting a black eye over this thing," he said. "It's bad for both of us, but it's probably worse for Republicans."
He said he knows voters don't like the shutdown or the climate in Washington, D.C.
"But this is part of our governance," he said. "This is oftentimes when big agreements can be fostered."
Sometimes it takes a big issue to inspire people to work together, he said.
And that might be a welcome statement to Republican constituents who, from the suburban Starbucks to the county Republican dinner, said they'd like to see more cooperation among their GOP politicians.
Party chair Bob Wilson, who addressed the dinner crowd Thursday night, said there needs to be an end to same-party bickering between very conservative Republicans and moderates.
"It makes us look bad," he said. "People don't take us seriously."
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.