January 24, 2023
Harrisburg is a numbers game. When government is divided, those numbers count even more than ever. In a 203-member House of Representatives, you need 102 members to agree to get anything done. When the House is narrowly divided as it is now, one member can bring everything to a grinding halt.
Disorder in the House
It's been three entire weeks since swearing-in day in the General Assembly, and the House of Representatives does not even have a set of operating rules yet. This is an embarrassment to the Commonwealth and an insult to the people of Pennsylvania, who are now the victims of Democrat stall tactics.
To review, 200 members of the House were sworn in on January 3rd, and the Democrats immediately moved to adjourn until late February. They wanted to delay the election of a Speaker and adoption of any operating rules until such time as the three vacant seats were filled at special elections scheduled for February 7, after which Democrats would likely hold a 102-101 majority.
The stall tactic would also block any legislative activity in the interim while Republicans hold a 101-99 majority. One can only deduce that Democrats did not want to see constitutional amendments to require voter ID and to reduce a governor's regulatory authority get moved to the ballot. Over in the Senate, those initiatives moved right out of the gate via Senate Bill 1.
The Democrat motion to adjourn failed on a 100-100 tie vote. One Republican opted to side with the Democrats to shut down the House until after the special elections.
We then moved on to the election of a Speaker. In private caucus, Republicans selected Rep. Carl Metzger from a field of four potential candidates to go up against Democrat Leader Joanna McClinton. In order to win the Speakership, a candidate would have needed to garner 101 votes.
There are 101 Republican members and when we left caucus, we all knew that everyone would need to stick together to elect Metzger. Anyone who objected had an opportunity to do so in caucus. No one did. But apparently when we got to the House floor, at least one Republican must have let someone know they would not vote for Metzger. I don't know which Republican it was, but I can venture a guess.
It was at this point that a scramble was on and Republican Jim Gregory nominated Democrat Mark Rozzi for Speaker. That nomination was seconded by Republican Whip Tim O'Neal. Democrat Leader McClinton chimed in to offer her support as well. All of this transpired quite quickly, and I was both surprised and angered.
Metzger was also nominated, but lost to Rozzi by a vote of 115-85. Sixteen Republicans handed the gavel and control of the House calendar to a Democrat. I was not happy at all. Republicans currently hold a 101-99 majority, and we should have been able to elect a Republican as Speaker, even if their tenure would only last a couple months.
An Independent Streak?
In Rozzi's acceptance speech, he claimed he would be an "independent" Speaker, and would caucus with neither Democrats nor Republicans. But in the following days, he hedged on whether he'd actually switch his voter registration to Independent, which would eventually leave the House with 101 Republicans, 101 Democrats, and one independent.
Thanks to the defection of at least one Republican member, Rozzi was elected. And now, three weeks later, we are not even close to adopting operating rules, organizing committees, or running any legislation.
By electing a Democrat Speaker, the Democrats' stall tactics are succeeding and significantly hampering our ability to put those constitutional amendments, as well as another to assist victims of childhood sexual abuse, on the ballot in May.
A Demand to Return
This past week, Republicans attempted to put together an effort to force the House back into session, by calling for a return to session under the authority of a majority the 200 sitting members. Again, we needed all 101 Republicans to agree. One Republican refused to join us.
It may be weeks until we get back into session in Harrisburg to do the people's business. The only bright spot is that as long as we are not in session, House Democrats can't run with their ultra-woke progressive agenda that threatens our values and way of life.
But eventually they will likely be able to run with that agenda, and it's infuriating to realize that any Republican has aided them in their efforts to prevent good policy from getting on the ballot for the voters to decide.
This is what happens when Democrats get their way. And this is what happens when Republicans help Democrats get their way. When the numbers are this close, it only takes one.