Republicans refused to seat Democratic senator Jim Brewster whose election victory has been certified by state officials at the new session of the Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday.
A report from SpotlightPa said that for now, at least, Democratic state Sen. Jim Brewster, of Allegheny County, will not be allowed to take the oath of office, as Republicans believe litigation over the outcome in his race must first play out in federal court.
GOP leaders have said the state constitution gives senators the authority to refuse to seat a member if they think the person does not meet the qualifications to hold office.
Amid exalted emotions and partisan fingerpointing, Republicans also took the rare step of removing the Democratic lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, from presiding over the session after he tried to reject efforts to keep Brewster out of office.
Republican senators voted to remove Fetterman as the body’s presiding officer, replacing him with President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R) amid vocal protests from the Senate’s Democratic minority.
— The Recount (@therecount) January 5, 2021
Democrats, in turn, responded by refusing to back Sen. Jake Corman (R., Centre) from assuming the chamber’s top leadership position , an unusual maneuver on what is most often a largely ceremonial and bipartisan vote.
Brewster narrowly won reelection over Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli, who is asking a federal judge to throw out the election results. At the center of that legal dispute is several hundred mail ballots that lacked a handwritten date on an outer envelope, as required by state law. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed those ballots to be counted, which gave Brewster the edge in the race.
“Unethical and undemocratic”
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D., Allegheny), along with Sen. Anthony Williams (D., Philadelphia), criticized their Republican colleagues for refusing to acknowledge Brewster’s win. Costa has compared the movement with Donald Trump maneuvers to accept valid election outcomes.
Gov. Tom Wolf called the Senate’s refusal to seat Brewster, whose reelection was certified by the state, “simply unethical and undemocratic.”
“Republicans in Pennsylvania and nationally have spread disinformation and used it to subvert the Democratic process,” the governor said in a statement.