Apr. 30, 2020

HARRISBURG – As daily announcements from Gov. Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine say, expanded testing is the most crucial step in saving lives and helping Pennsylvania get back to normal. However, House Democrats disagreed, blocking the two-thirds vote required to pass an emergency bill to expand testing to Pennsylvanians on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday.

Today, Westmoreland County Republican House members were surprised with the reversal by some House Democrats as they voted with the majority to require the Wolf administration to develop and disclose a COVID-19 testing plan to help protect Pennsylvanians and reopen the state. The state legislators, including Reps. Bob Brooks (R-Allegheny/Westmoreland), Eric Davanzo (R-Westmoreland), George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland), Eric Nelson (R-Hempfield), Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset) and Ryan Warner (R-Fayette/Westmoreland), issued the following statement:

“Gov. Tom Wolf, under questioning from reporters on Tuesday, said testing is at the ‘heart’ of reopening. Shockingly, all but one of the House Democrats chose to delay action on moving forward with the creation of a testing plan. Instead, they wanted to delay, which will put Pennsylvanians further at risk. Today, a number of Democrats voted against party leadership to pass the amendment 132-70.

“The governor is expected to open parts of the state at the end of next week. Having a testing plan in action ahead of this would be wise. No one should have to wonder whether those they come into contact with have the virus. By having more testing available, those who are infected will know it and can act in a responsible way.

“We are disappointed the majority of the House Democrats put politics in front of people’s lives Wednesday. We are in the midst of a pandemic. A delay in action can be deadly. That’s why we returned for a previously unscheduled session day on Thursday so we could advance the amendment and get the proposal to the Senate early next week. We hope our Senate colleagues join us in expediting this legislation.”

A two-thirds majority of the House was needed accelerate consideration of the amendment to allow for expanded testing due to chamber rules. Every Republican member and only one Democrat, Rep. Joseph Petrarca (D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana), voted to move the measure forward on Wednesday, which resulted in its defeat. The House returned on Thursday in order to act, and the amendment was passed on a 132-70 vote.

Westmoreland County Republican Delegation
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick