Jan 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Pennsylvania GOP declines to seat Democrat who won in November

Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman speaking in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in January 2020.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman speaking in Harrisburg, Pa., in January 2020. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Pennsylvania Republican senators voted not to seat a Democratic lawmaker elected in November and removed the Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman from presiding over the chamber on Tuesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Why it matters: Republicans prevented Sen. Jim Brewster (D) from taking the oath of office, and he will be unable to assume his seat even though state officials certified his narrow win.

Context: Brewster won re-election over his Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli, whose campaign is challenging Brewster's victory, asking a federal judge to throw out a handful of votes to give her the win.

Republicans refused to seat Brewster because they believe litigation over the race must first be resolved in the courts.

  • State GOP senators also voted to remove Fetterman from presiding because they believed he did not recognize their legislative motions, according to the Inquirer.

What they're saying: "The votes were counted, the election was certified, and Sen. Jim Brewster is the winner of the 45th Senate District," Gov. Tom Wolf D) tweeted Tuesday.

  • "Senate Republicans’ refusal to swear him in is a disgrace to democracy. I'll do everything in my power to ensure voters have the final say in our elections."

The other side: Jennifer Kocher, spokesperson for the state's Senate Republicans, accused Democrats of breaking chamber rules.

  • “Today, the order and decorum of the Senate were hijacked by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and members of the Senate Democrat caucus, who failed to adhere to Senate rules,” she said, according to the New York Times.
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