Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R) told Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Thursday that he must either resign or face impeachment proceedings from the Republican-dominated legislature, the Washington Examiner reported.
“Following the shame and struggles you have placed upon the state, we ask that you save us further strife by resigning on your own accord,” Metcalfe said in a letter to the administration, according to the Examiner. “Your further authoritarian dictates, as of yesterday, have only strengthened our resolve.”
The legislature has been locked in a conflict with Gov. Wolf over restrictions and business closures during the coronavirus pandemic, and the governor recently moved to tighten limitations on bars and restaurants even though positive test results are only surging in the western area of the state near Pittsburgh, as The New York Times reported.
Metcalfe had already introduced articles of impeachment against Gov. Wolf in June, arguing that he had exceeded his constitutional authority with stay-at-home orders, lacked transparency about business closures and waivers, and failed to protect nursing home patients.
Problematic track record
Contributing to Metcalfe’s push is the fact that more than 4,000 of Pennsylvania’s over 7,000 coronavirus fatalities occurred in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, and Gov. Wolf ordered early on in the pandemic that those who had tested positive for the coronavirus and been hospitalized had to be returned to those facilities even if they were still carrying the virus.
While the nursing home policy was arguably Gov. Wolf’s deadliest failure during the pandemic, he has also been accused of an absence of transparency with regard to the shutdowns of supposedly “non-essential” enterprises, when thousands of business waivers were given without any defined criteria.
“Through your executive actions you have endangered the lives and livelihoods of Pennsylvanians from all walks of life,” Metcalfe said, according to the Examiner. He went on:
Had you followed the rule of law, conferred with the co-equal branches of government, respected the Constitution, and acknowledged the need for the consent of the governed, the confusing Orwellian predicament we currently face could have been avoided.
Power struggle continues
Republicans are especially bitter that when they passed a resolution to end Gov. Wolf’s executive state of emergency order in June so that businesses and residents would not be held hostage any longer, the governor simply declared that they didn’t have the power to do so, and the Democrat-controlled Supreme Court agreed with him.
Gov. Wolf has managed to cut the legislature out of every decision about how to handle the pandemic, which has given him the kind of autocratic power the Founding Fathers surely never intended a governor or executive branch official would have.
Instead of working with Republican lawmakers to reach mutually agreeable decisions that would have prevented the current power struggles and impeachment push he now faces, he went in the opposite direction.
He even punished Lebanon County — where officials voted to reopen the county ahead of his orders — by keeping them locked down a week longer than his own phased reopening plan required and denying the county state funding to which it was entitled.
Though impeachment of Gov. Wolf is an unlikely outcome, perhaps Pennsylvania Republicans can find other ways to rein in these overreaches and prevent further harm to an already-fragile state economy.