U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker is keeping up his advocacy for President Donald Trump's still-unfunded southern border wall — both through his official congressional office and in his campaign fundraising.
“Walls work," Smucker has repeated this week while citing at least one highly debatable figure in the battle over the border wall.
Meanwhile, a new report gives a glimpse of how close Smucker's last re-election would've been if the controversial redistricting hadn't happened early last year.
And in Harrisburg, the highest-ranking lawmaker from Lancaster County made some news at an event this week.
Here are those updates and more from the political scene in Lancaster County and beyond.
He also made the case in a campaign fundraising email titled, “Walls work." Under a link leading to a donations page, Smucker noted a few figures to emphasize what he called a “humanitarian crisis at our borders."
One was that “90 percent of the heroin in our country comes across the Mexican border.”
It's true that the Drug Enforcement Agency says almost all heroin in the U.S. comes from Mexico.
But it's not coming across the parts of the border where the wall would go.
Only a “small percentage” of heroin coming across the border is between regular ports of entry, according to the DEA's 2018 “National Drug Threat Assessment.” Most of it is transported in private vehicles or tractor-trailers where the drug is mixed in with legal goods.
What could've been?
A new analysis of Pennsylvania's recent congressional election results found that, under the old district lines that were thrown out in early 2018, Smucker would have still won the former Lancaster-based district known as the 16th.
But his race against Democrat Jess King would've been far closer — and, in fact, the narrowest victory in any district across the state, according to the PA Post/Keystone Crossroads report.
Within the old district lines — which included more Democratic voters living in Reading, Berks County and parts of Chester County, rather than the new heavily GOP district — there were just 1,241 more Republican than Democratic votes cast out of 261,000.
There are significant caveats, though.
PA Post/Keystone Crossroads noted it is “extremely unlikely that the 2018 campaign would have featured the same candidates, strategy and voter turnout had the map not changed."
The report even quoted King saying it's “impossible to wager what results would've been in the old 16th versus the new 11th.”
King, for instance, had to stop campaigning in Reading early last year and instead focus her time on more Republican areas of York and Lancaster counties.
Cutler speaks at Press Club
New House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler — who rose from Solanco roots to one of the most important elected offices in Pennsylvania — was the featured guest at the monthly Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon Tuesday.
Here are a few notable moments from his appearance, which was broadcast on PCN and aligned with the first legislative working days in Harrisburg for the 2019-20 session.
— “Leadership vision”: Cutler introduced his philosophy in his new role: “Stand on your principles … Stand for truth and ... be willing to discuss those and not be ashamed of it."
— Praising Lancaster County: The Peach Bottom resident told the group of business leaders, lobbyists, officials and reporters about the county's impact from the days of the Underground Railroad to today's Extraordinary Give.
— Guns: After Gov. Tom Wolf's call for expanded firearms background checks, Cutler said he believes the state already has “fairly comprehensive background checks” and should instead focus on addressing mental health issues.
— Accused lawmaker: Asked about his and other leaders' call for GOP Rep. Brian Ellis to resign amid sexual assault allegations, Cutler said the case was a distraction that does not allow him and his colleagues to focus on “discussing issues." Pressed on whether he's heard from Ellis, who did not show up in Harrisburg this week, Cutler said, “I've not personally talked to Rep. Ellis, no. Next question.”
— Statute of limitations: Cutler said he thinks lawmakers can find a solution to the stalled legislation that would expand or eliminate the time limits for lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse. He was one of the few “no" votes on the bill at the end of last year but said he has a meeting scheduled with Rep. Mark Rozzi, the top House advocate for the bill.
— Energy: Regarding the efforts to keep the Three Mile Island nuclear plant from its impending closure, Cutler said he doesn't at this point “know where it's going to go." One line of note, though, was when he said it's trying to be addressed at the federal level: “I'm not sure a state-by-state position produces the best result.”
— Areas of focus: Cutler said he expects the House to look at workforce development, including legislation to boost career and technical education, as well as an expanded post-mortem on exactly why Amazon did not choose Pennsylvania for its new headquarters.