Pennsylvania Senate Refuses to Seat Democrat On First Day of Session
HARRISBURG, Pa. – The opening of a new session of the Pennsylvania Senate is usually a fairly staid affair, marked by ceremony and at least a bit of bipartisanship.
However, that wasn’t the case Tuesday when the Republican majority refused to seat a Democratic Senator whose election victory has been certified by state officials, and then tossed Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman from its chamber.
The extraordinary events may be a harbinger of a chaotic two-year session in which the state legislature is expected to tackle a number of thorny issues, not the least of which is redistricting.
State Sen. Jim Brewster, who the Senate majority refused to seat, has represented a district outside Pittsburgh for nearly a decade.
But this past November, he defeated his Republican challenger, Nicole Ziccarelli, by just 69 votes, and she is challenging the results in federal court.
Ziccarelli claims several hundred mail-in ballots were wrongly rejected on the grounds that they did not have a handwritten date on their outer envelopes, which she argues was not an explicit requirement.
She’s already lost a challenge in state court, but the Republicans in the state Senate said they wanted to wait for the outcome of her most recent legal challenge before filling the seat.
“Our goal is to get it right, not get it fast,” said Jake Corman, the president pro tem of the State Senate, during a briefing with reporters.
Fetterman likened the situation to the one playing out in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, where several Republicans are planning to challenge the certification of the Electoral College vote that will formally make Joe Biden the next president.
“This idea of having one party decide who is the real victor is a dangerous precedent we’re seeing played out on the national stage,” he said.
As for Fetterman’s expulsion from the chamber, the majority asserted after Brewster wasn’t seated, the lieutenant governor ” hijacked ” the proceedings and stopped following the chamber’s rules and refused to recognize their various motions.
Things grew even more chaotic after Senate Republicans voted to replace Fetterman with Corman.
For a time, both men stood on the rostrum, trying to recognize motions from the floor.
Finally, Fetterman was escorted out of the chamber.
“This was a corruption of the fundamental democratic franchise in our state,” he said as he left.
In The News
WASHINGTON — This week, U.S. Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., sent a bipartisan letter to Operation Warp Speed leadership urging them to consider the unique challenges of vaccine distribution to rural areas across Wisconsin and take steps to support timely and equitable vaccine... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The Secretary of the Air Force announced Wednesday that Huntsville, Ala., will be the new headquarters of the U.S. Space Command. The announcement was welcomed in Alabama but criticized as an example of partisan politics by government officials in Colorado, where the Space Command... Read More
CONCORD, N.H. — A collection of 14 states have now signed amicus briefs backing New Hampshire in the state’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether jurisdictions may tax the income of remote workers who cannot commute to their workplaces. In October, New Hampshire... Read More
Earlier this week, Idaho Governor Brad Little announced his “Building Idaho’s Future” plan, a comprehensive proposal that will impact the state’s budget into 2022. The plan features more than $450 million in tax relief and strategic investments in critical infrastructure projects such as education, transportation, public... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the aftermath of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last week, questions are being raised about why the District of Columbia National Guard played such a limited role as civilian law enforcement officers were outnumbered and overrun. The questions also highlight... Read More
State capitols across the nation stepped up security Monday, deploying National Guard units, SWAT teams and extra police officers while several legislatures convened amid heightened safety concerns following last week's violence at the U.S. Capitol. The protections came as the FBI issued a bulletin warning of... Read More