PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Tempers flared in Harrisburg, all over a state senate bill about welfare.
On Wednesday, lawmakers fought over a bill to end a decades-old program that offered $200 a month to people deemed unable to work. The first shouting match over House Bill 33 started when Democrats wanted to add amendments to the bill.
Republicans believed the program is suspect to fraud.
It was at this point when Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman called for the senate to ease and left the rostrum to make peace between the sides. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) took the rostrum and shut down any possible changes to the bill.
“I don’t believe it was appropriate to invoke the nuclear option so quickly, but at the end of the day, I wanted to maintain civility and decorum through this process,” Fetterman told KDKA.
Republicans claimed the Lt. Gov. left during a vote, which goes against senate rules.
“We don’t just stop in the middle of wherever we want to, in the middle of the interstate and say, ‘I’m going to clean my windshield now,’” Sen. Scarnati said in Harrisburg.
This is when Democrats left the floor. When they returned, round two of shouting began.
Senator Katie Muth (D-Montgomery) read a statement from someone impacted by the program.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) demanded the Lt. Gov. follow the rules. He said allowing Sen. Muth to give the statement violated them.
Corman could be heard shouting at the Lt. Gov. during Sen. Muth’s speech.
“Your job is to enforce the rules of the senate,” Corman shouted in the chamber. “Not to be a partisan hack.”
By the end of the day, the bill passed the chamber, 26-24.
According to senators and the Lt. Gov., there was no hostility that carried over to Thursday.
“I think today, the fact that we’re back at working through it, is a testament to the resilience of the two-party system,” Fetterman told KDKA.
(TM and © Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)