Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., left, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, walk to the chamber for two votes that could end the government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. Both measures failed, as the partial government shutdown continues.
Ed Mahon is a reporter for PA Post.
Previously, he was an investigative and political reporter at the York Daily Record/Sunday News, where his work revealed holes in Pennsylvania’s system for protecting victims of domestic violence.
He grew up in Delaware County, graduated from La Salle University in Philadelphia and has lived in Pennsylvania most of his life.
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate and House passed a spending plan to avoid a government shutdown before the deadline at midnight Friday.
Here’s what you need to know about the potential impact in Pennsylvania — and the role of state lawmakers.
The shutdown began Dec. 22 after President Donald Trump and members of Congress failed to reach a funding deal for parts of the federal government. At the time, Republicans controlled both the U.S. House and Senate.
The shutdown continued into January, as Democrats took over the U.S. House.
There were some immediate ramifications, while others took weeks to start developing. For instance:
A review of the impact on those who work with and are served by state agencies in Pennsylvania found that widespread effects would likely hit after about 90 days of a shutdown, as PA Post reporter Emily Previti described.
How it ended
On Jan. 25, Trump announced that he would sign a spending deal lasting through Feb. 15, without money for a border wall. At the time, he said without a “fair deal” the government would either shut down again or he would “use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”
A national emergency and other options?
Back in January, Trump offered mixed signals about one possible solution: Declare a national emergency and direct billions of dollars of funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I’m not convinced it’s a great idea. … I think the president probably has the legal authority to do this, but it’s really stretching the intent of the law,” U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, said during a visit to Armstrong County in western Pennsylvania, according to the Leader Times.
“President Trump’s national emergency declaration is a complete abuse of power,” Casey said on his Twitter account. “No President can be allowed to spend taxpayer dollars without authorization from Congress.”
The House passed the spending plan later on Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat from the Philadelphia suburbs, said she voted in favor of the legislation to maintain vital services and avoid another shutdown. She criticized the national emergency plans.
“Congress has the power to appropriate funds, and the President’s declaration is an obvious overreach,” Dean said in a statement. “The legislative branch is weighing a range of options to preserve our constitutional system of checks and balances, and we will take action.”
Republicans from Pennsylvania were split.
U.S. Rep. John Joyce, a Republican from Blair County, said the spending plan didn’t include enough money for barriers on the border and was drawn up in secret.
“President Trump has signaled that if he signs this measure he will then have to take unilateral action to provide the additional wall funding that is necessary for our national security,” Joyce said in a statement. “He should not be forced to do that. Congress has a responsibility to provide adequate funding to protect the American people rather than have the President bail us out.”
He voted against the spending plan. So did Reps. Dan Meuser of Luzerne County, Perry, Lloyd Smucker of Lancaster County, Guy Reschenthaler of southwestern Pennsylvania and Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County and Glenn Thompson of Centre County voted in favor of the spending plan.