Fireworks erupt in Pa. Senate over refusal to seat a Democratic senator

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The Swearing-in Ceremony in the Pennsylvania Senate, typically a collegial and joyous affair, was instead marked by shouting and bitter clashes on Tuesday.

Despite long, impassioned speeches, Democrats tried unsuccessfully to convince Senate Republicans to seat Democratic Sen. Jim Brewster from the 45th district in western Pennsylvania. Brewster edged his GOP opponent, Nicole Ziccarelli, in a tight contest by 69 votes, according to the Department of State’s certified results. But Ziccarelli asked the Senate to refuse to accept the certified results.

Ziccarelli is challenging whether mail-in ballots received from Allegheny County voters without dates on them should be counted, which is what gave Brewster that winning margin. Senate Democrats argue that issue has already been settled by other courts.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre County, decided on Monday to leave the seat vacant for now until senators have an opportunity to review Ziccarelli’s 500-page petition and Brewster’s 120-page response.

Democrats accused Senate Republicans, who hold the majority in the chamber, of usurping the will of the voters by blocking Brewster from taking the seat. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who typically presides over the Senate, pushed for Brewster to be seated. After heated arguments, Senate Republicans voted to remove Fetterman as presiding officer for the day and Corman filled that role.

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