A shouting match broke out in the PA state Senate forcing Lt. Gov. John Fetterman to remove himself

In this Sept. 21, 2018 photo, former Braddock, Pa., Mayor John Fetterman speaks at a campaign rally for Pennsylvania candidates in Philadelphia

  • The Pennsylvania State Senate erupted into a shouting match on Tuesday after Republican senators removed Lt. Governor John Fetterman from his role as president of the Senate.
  • GOP senators objected to Fetterman seating Democratic Sen. Jim Brewster because his Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli has disputed the results of the race.
  • Republican Sen. Jake Corman interrupted Fetterman and began a vote to have him removed from chambers, to which Fetterman volubly protested.
  • After several minutes of yelling, Fetterman left the chambers and Brewster’s swearing-in was blocked.
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The Pennsylvania state senate devolved into a shouting match during its swearing-in ceremony today after several GOP senators removed Lt. Governor John Fetterman from his position as presiding officer of the Senate during a debate over the seating of Sen. Jim Brewster.  

Brewster narrowly won his race against Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli in the 45th District by just 69 votes. The election was certified by the Department of State and upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, however, Ziccarelli is challenging the results of the race and the case is still pending. 

Ziccarelli disputes the legitimacy of the election results based on a discrepancy between how various counties in the 45th District handled mail-in ballots. In one county within the district, mail-in ballots that did not have a date on them were discarded, while they were allowed in another. Ziccarelli is asking a judge to throw out 311 undated mail-in ballots which would alter the results of the election.   

The charge against the seating of Brewster was led by Republican Sen. Jake Corman and incoming Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, who insisted Brewster could not be seated while Ziccarelli’s case is pending.

At one point, Corman refused to let proceedings continue until “the gentleman from the 45th [District] removes himself from the rostrum.” 

During the heated exchange, Corman then walked up to a different podium in front of the room and began calling a vote on removing Fetterman from his role as Senate president.

Fetterman attempted to object for several minutes but eventually was forced to cede his position. In a video of the incident, Corman can be seen calling for a vote to remove Fetterman while Fetterman expresses his outrage. 

“You are breaking the Constitution and the law of the Commonwealth and violating the oath of office you’ve actually taken. There is nothing about this day that is appropriate and we will not lay down because you’ve got four more folks on that side of the aisle,” Fetterman can be heard yelling.

“I had no desire to ruin picture day,” Fetterman told the Sharon Herald. “It came down to, there’s got to be a way for both sides to maintain their dignity and we can find a way forward. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”

In a statement to the Washington Post, Corman said he prevented Brewster from being seated in order to ensure “properly elected representation.”

“Ziccarelli’s position is that Pennsylvania election law is entirely clear that voters must sign and date their mail-in ballot to be counted,” Corman said. “We understand that this issue needs to be resolved promptly while ensuring that the constituents of the 45th Senate District have properly elected representation.”

Governor Jim Wolf told the Sharon-Herald the ejection of Fetterman and the refusal to seat Brewster was “a shameful power grab that disgraces the institution.” 


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