PA Republicans Making Another Push to Reign in Gov. Tom Wolf’s Seizure of Emergency Powers
Republicans are making a renewed push in the legislature to undo Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf’s overreaching lockdown of the state in response to COVID-19.
The general assembly in June voted to force Wolf to end the state’s COVID-19 disaster declaration. Wolf argued that such a move required his approval, and the state Democrat-controlled Supreme Court allied itself with Wolf, who then vetoed the measure.
Now state House Republicans are pushing forward with a measure to override Wolf’s veto, which would require at least a baker’s dozen of Democrats to join them, just months before their re-election in November and with the lockdown increasingly unpopular in the Keystone State.
“When we return to session next week, we will be prioritizing the need to hold Gov. Wolf accountable and return power to the people by attempting to override the governor’s veto of House Resolution 836,” Jason Gottesman, a spokesperson for House Republicans, said. “The Wolf administration’s handling of this pandemic has cost lives and livelihoods and their actions should no longer continue unchecked.”
Wolf has been at war with the legislature, and vice versa, ever since Wolf seized emergency powers and mishandled the state’s response to the pandemic, including his draconian lockdown of businesses statewide based on faulty data.
Wolf’s secretive granting of exemptions to certain businesses that were his supporters furthered the rift, as did Secretary of Health Rachel Levine’s bungling of COVID-19 policy relating to nursing homes.
Levine, a transgender political appointee with no public health policy experience, mandated that nursing homes had to accept COVID-19 positive patients. This resulted in 68% of COVID-19 deaths in Pennsylvania occurring in nursing homes and senior assisted living facilities – more than twice the national average.
While some restrictions have since been lifted, restaurants, bars, salons, and entertainment venues are laboring under untenable mandates that are bankrupting local businesses.
While state health officials claim they’ve linked new infections to these businesses, there is no granular data to support this assertion, nor has the Department of Health provided any data to support these policies.
Republicans need 25 Democrats to join in overriding the governor’s veto power, and they have already garnered the support of 12 in the initial measure from June.
Meanwhile, state Reps. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) and Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon), and state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Adams), argued this week that the legislature can completely “suspend” the state’s Emergency Management Services Code, which grants Wolf powers during a disaster declaration.
The legislators said on Monday that the state constitution grants the power to suspend any law if they gather signatures from a majority of lawmakers.