PA Legislature Descends Into Chaos After Republicans Refuse to Seat Certified Democratic State Senate Winner
On January 6th, Vice President Mike Pence will preside over a joint session of Congress where the Electoral College votes will be read aloud for Congressional acknowledgement, further reinforcing President-elect Joe Biden's victory over outgoing President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
At Trump's demand, an unignorable number of pro-Trump lawmakers will be objecting to the certified election results, falsely arguing that widespread irregularities have compromised faith in the election. The quixotic effort is almost certain to fail, but the erosion of faith in democracy among Trump's supporters based on his election lies could change the political landscape for decades to come.
The Trump playbook is already being carried out in the swing state of Pennsylvania, where the Republican-dominated legislature refused to seat Democratic State Senator Jim Brewster, despite the Secretary of the Commonwealth's certification the election.
Brewster narrowly won his reelection race to represent Pennsylvania's 45th district against Republican Nicole Ziccarelli by 69 votes.
Ziccarelli is currently litigating the results, arguing that the counting of ballots without a handwritten date on the outside of the envelope violated state election laws. Her case has lost in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court but is expected to be litigated through federal courts next.
At the Pennsylvania Senate swearing in on Tuesday, Senate Republicans put forth a motion to delay the seating of Senator Brewster. The motion was objected to by Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who was presiding over the ceremony, and Pennsylvania Republicans proceeded to revoke Fetterman's authority to preside over the Senate.
Fetterman initially refused, which led to dueling orders from him and the Republican replacement.
The Senate descended even further into chaos when the lawmakers voted not to seat Brewster.
Chaos and shouting in the Pennsylvania State Senate as the Republican majority refuses to swear in a Democratic senator and votes to remove Lt. Gov. @JohnFetterman (D-PA) from presiding over the session.
Watch the wild exchange: pic.twitter.com/WSNQe56yBK
— The Recount (@therecount) January 5, 2021
Fetterman said after being escorted from the proceedings:
"This was a corruption of the fundamental democratic franchise in our state."
Observers across the nation tended to agree.
Republican politicians are telling us they care only about power. Not the Constitution. Not what's legal. Not what's right. Absolute power—exactly what our democratic system of governance is designed to prevent. https://t.co/mGPoCVThGl
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) January 5, 2021
I'd been having a pretty good day today -- then read this and my stomach coiled into a knot 🪢 https://t.co/sJs1sfJ2Ul
— Quark the Bird (@Gracklefeet) January 5, 2021
The @PAGOP is Pennsylvania's embarrassing uncle. Todays behavior was a national disgrace.
— Rep. Malcolm 'Wear A Mask' Kenyatta (@malcolmkenyatta) January 5, 2021
Today is an ugly and dark day for Pennsylvania politics.
The PA GOP are unconstitutionally refusing to seat a Senator who won more votes than his competitor simply because he is a member of the opposing party.
— Lancaster Stands Up (@lancstandsup) January 5, 2021
Many thought Trump's months-long smear campaign against election integrity led to the unprecedented situation.
Lawlessness in Pennsylvania. This is what remains after Trump. https://t.co/Rq5nXEklrl
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) January 5, 2021
This is Trump's legacy -- a handful of state GOP electeds decided they can overrule the Supreme Court and the democratic process. Ending Trumpism is vital for our nation to survive.
It shouldn't all fall to @JohnFetterman, although thank you for your service, sir. https://t.co/Tf09eww89R
— ilyseh (@ilyseh) January 5, 2021
The cancer has spread far beyond Trump. Practically the entire Republican Party is committed to subverting democracy https://t.co/Con3kzakdL
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) January 5, 2021
The PA GOP does not want to recognize a State Senator who won by 69 votes. In the U.S. Congress, Rep. Miller-Meeks, a Republican from IA, won by just 8 votes and was sworn in 2 days ago.
Pennsylvania Republicans are taking a page out of Trump's book, and it does not look well. https://t.co/NanhhkX6yx
— ubo (@ubo_ub) January 5, 2021
Disgusting. This is the lasting damage of what Trump has done to our country. Makes me sick to my stomach. https://t.co/YeHnvv3NjQ
— Dalton Ross (@DaltonRoss) January 5, 2021
It's unclear what happens next, but the seat for Pennsylvania's 45th District—which Brewster occupied for over a decade—remains empty for now.