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Brindisi votes Biden for speaker, says he could support wall 'in certain areas'

Rep. Anthony Brindisi's office
Rep. Anthony Brindisi with his wife and kids at his office in Washington D.C.

Newly sworn-in Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) already fulfilled one campaign promise Thursday by not voting for Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House. In a protest vote, Brindisi voted for former Vice President Joe Biden, but Pelosi won the speakership anyway. Democrats regained control of the House in the midst of a government shutdown.

Brindisi said he is worried that there is no compromise happening whatsoever with reopening the government.

“We’re in a very serious situation right now where we’re going into further dysfunction here, further shutdown, and we need to get the government up and running," Brindisi said. "And then we need to have a discussion about the wall. We have to have a discussion about funding for more border security. We have to have a discussion about more funding for technology. These are all things that we should be doing outside of a government shutdown.”

If it were included in a larger package, Brindisi said he could support elements of a wall.

"In certain areas," Brindisi said. "Part of that may be more border agents. Part of that could be more technology to scan trucks that are coming across the border."

But he said he could also support a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally, but are law-abiding and paying taxes. And he said other immigration reforms are needed, like making the guest worker visa program more reliable for upstate farmers who use skilled workers.

Thursday night, Brindisi voted in favor of a bill to end the government shutdown and fund the government through Sept. 30, and a stop-gap spending bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which does not include any money for a border wall. Both measures passed the House, but is not expected to be taken up by the Senate. 

Brindisi said he will also try to fulfill another campaign promise by holding a town hall meeting with constituents either this or next month.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.