Divided Pennsylvania House Elects Mark Rozzi As Speaker!
On the strength of every Democrat and more than a dozen GOP votes, a Democrat who pledged to rule as an independent was unexpectedly elected speaker of the closely divided Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Republicans could not use a temporary two-seat majority to force a vote to keep control of the chamber, and Rep. Mark Rozzi was chosen as speaker by a vote of 115 to 85. Even though the process of nominating and electing Rozzi only started a few hours before the vote, the chamber’s immediate future remains unclear in light of his election.
Mark Rozzi, who began his sixth two-year term as a representative for a district in the Reading area this week, is best known for being a champion of the drive to give victims of child sexual abuse another chance to sue those who committed the crime or the organizations that covered it up over claims that are currently time-barred by existing law.
An afternoon of drama and uncertainty resulted from the closeness of the November election, which was further compounded by the passing of one Democrat and the resignations of two other Democrats who were elected to higher seats.
To take control of the chamber, 102-101, after more than ten years in the minority, Democrats had to flip a net of 12 seats in November.
- Washington’s New Pay Transparency Law: The Department of Labor And Industries’ Administrative Policy Is Here
- Mitch McConnell Becomes Longest-Serving Senate Leader In History!
However, after accounting for the three vacancies that will stay unfilled until February, the margin is now 101-99. How the chamber will function in the meantime and who will represent the majority remained unanswered Tuesday night by Mark Rozzi.
In his brief remarks on the House floor, Mark Rozzi vowed to be independent, claimed he would not caucus with either the Republicans or the Democrats, and said he would hire people from both parties to work in his office. Never before, he claimed, “has this House been so split,” as he denounced dysfunction and obstruction in the politics of the chamber.
Rozzi made the following oath: “I pledge devotion and fidelity to the people of the Commonwealth, not to any interest in this building, not to any interest in our politics.”
Mark Rozzi asked the parliamentarian, “Alright, what do we do?” after taking the oath of office.
Mark Rozzi, according to Democrats, won’t change his party affiliation to independent.
After the vote, Rozzi appeared alongside prominent Democrats and told reporters in the Capitol that his rise to the dais was “completely unexpected.”
Rozzi, though, promised not to make any “big announcements.” Reporters tried to quiz him about changing his registration to independent, but he wouldn’t answer them.
He informed reporters that the speakership is an impartial officer of the House tasked with upholding the chamber’s integrity. I’ll concentrate as a speaker on that.
Even yet, the speakership is not necessarily a nonpartisan position given that the House just had a decade of Republican speakers who worked to lead Republican majorities and caucus with Republicans.
Josh Shapiro, a Democrat running for governor, delivered a historic grand jury report on his office’s probe into the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses. Rep. Jim Gregory, a conservative Republican who nominated Shapiro, worked closely with Mark Rozzi to push for the litigation window.
Rozzi and Gregory, both of Blair County, claimed to have discussed such a scenario for months. Still, Gregory did not bring it up until Tuesday afternoon, when Gregory urged House Republican leaders to get in touch with Rozzi.
Rozzi received the support of every Democrat and 16 Republicans, including their floor leader, Bryan Cutler of Lancaster County.
House Republicans praised Rozzi as “Pennsylvania’s first Independent Speaker of the House” in a statement.
To conduct House business and control the House floor, they declared, “Reflecting the realities of an evenly divided body, we must have a truly autonomous voice.”
Although it was unclear whether Republicans would accept Philadelphia’s Joanna McClinton as speaker candidate, Democrats had initially intended to promote McClinton to become the state’s first female floor leader.
As an alternative, Democrats supported Mark Rozzi, who got support from Republicans and defeated Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Somerset, whose competing campaign received 85 votes.
In the interim, Bryan Cutler is fighting to push back the special elections for two of the three open Democratic seats until May.
The third special election has been set for February 7 due to McClinton’s initiative.