PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Republicans in the Pennsylvania House say an oversight committee is necessary for the upcoming election because, they claim, the state Supreme Court’s recent decision has “injected chaos” into the process.
But as they push through the legislation, confusion and raw emotions were on full display in Harrisburg on Wednesday.
Republican state Rep. Garth Everett, chair of the State Government Committee and the resolution’s prime sponsor, said the bill would create a committee of three Republicans and two Democrats — selected by the speaker of the House — to investigate and review the election in Pennsylvania.
Everett said the committee would only review the election after it ended, but Philadelphia-based Democratic state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta said the resolution doesn’t make that clear.
“We heard the president say last night, ‘Bad things happen in Philadelphia,’ ” Kenyatta said of Tuesday night’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. “The reality is, bad things are happening in this committee. This is a bad bill that never should have been brought up.”
Members of the Philadelphia delegation questioned the language and timing of the legislation, as well as the structure of the committee. Kenyatta even accused Republicans on the committee of acting more like a “cult” than a committee.
Contention between the two escalated to the point that Everett threatened to call security on Kenyatta.
Listen to the heated back-and-forth below:
“This bill would allow ballots to be subpoenaed,” Kenyatta continued.
“It specifically says you can’t subpoena ballots,” Everett countered. “That’s in the Consitution.”
Kenyatta went on to call the bill a “farce,” then asking Everett, “Is it your intent that you’re going to enforce a subpoena against county election officials?”
Kenyatta’s motion to table the bill ultimately failed.
Everett refused to amend the resolution to include “post-certification,” to clarify the timing. However, he repeatedly insisted the committee would only be for oversight and investigation.
As to why the committee is unbalanced and does not include three members from each party, Everett said it’s based on tradition in the state Legislature. He said he’s not open to amending that.
The resolution passed the committee 15-10, and it could be up for a vote in front of the House as soon as Thursday.
Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted the Democratic Party’s request to extend the deadline for postmarked mail-in ballots by three days due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by 8 p.m. of Election Day, Nov. 3. They’ll be counted as long as they arrive by Nov. 6.