As the new session of the Pennsylvania state Senate kicked off Tuesday, the chamber's Republican majority refused to seat Jim Brewster, a Democrat who won a narrow victory in the state's 45th district in November.
GOP lawmakers — who also removed Lt. Gov. Tom Fetterman (D) from the chamber leaving Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman to preside over the drama instead — argued it was necessary to block Brewster from being sworn in while they await a federal court's decision on a legal challenge brought by his GOP opponent.
But Democrats are dubious and consider the move "unlawful," since the state court system already litigated the challenge, and Brewster's win was ultimately certified, The Philadelphia Inquirer explains. Pennsylvania's Senate Minority Leader Jay Acosta (D) said the maneuver resembles one from the "Trump playbook," alluding to efforts by President Trump and his allies to overturn the presidential election even after many of their claims were adjudicated in state and federal courts.
Some observers similarly see the situation as an example of Trump's strategy working its way down throughout the Republican Party, with the Inquirer's Abraham Gutman warning that it sets a "very dangerous precedent," in which a refusal to concede is all that's needed to prevent an opponent from being sworn in. Tim O'Donnell