HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) — House Republicans in Pennsylvania are dropping plans to fast-track an 11th-hour effort to set up a Republican-majority election panel with subpoena power, officials said Friday, amid accusations that it was an effort to steal the election.
In an email to House Republicans, Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said “the muddied waters and misunderstanding” about the intent of the Select Committee on Election Integrity made it clear “this is the wrong time to run the proposal.”
Benninghoff blamed “the left and their media allies.”
“This committee is invested only with investigatory powers,” said House Republican Caucus spokesperson Jason Gottesman on Oct. 1 to KDKA. “It has no ability to change law. It has no ability to take any legislative action. It has no interest in interfering with the conduct of the upcoming election.”
The presidential battleground state is hotly contested by President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, after Trump narrowly won it in 2016, by less than 1 percentage point.
House Republicans introduced the legislation Sept. 28. That was two days after Trump, at a campaign rally near Harrisburg, claimed he will lose Pennsylvania only if Democrats cheat and, as he did in 2016′s campaign, suggested that the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia needs to be watched closely for election fraud.
Republicans had scheduled it for a vote Oct. 1 over the protests of Democrats but were derailed when a Republican member tested positive for the coronavirus and they canceled the voting session.
Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, called it an attempt to “steal the election,” and Democrats say it is another Republican tactic to suppress votes. Republicans insisted it would generate forward-looking recommendations.
“It’s just another attempt and part of their plan, I believe, to erode trust in voting and delay the results,” House Democratic Leader Rep. Frank Dermody told KDKA on Oct. 1.
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