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Reschenthaler Weighs In On COVID Relief Bill, Toomey, Jan. 6 Insurrection

Sarah Kovash
90.5 WESA

Republicans are adjusting to life after Donald Trump. The state party censured U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey for voting to impeach Trump after the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January. And in Congress, Republicans opposed a popular pandemic bailout bill signed by President Biden Thursday.
90.5 WESA's Lucy Perkins spoke with western Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler about his own efforts to question the election results — and about why he opposed an aid bill that includes a tax credit that helps families with kids.
“Unfortunately we weren’t given the option to vote on that as a standalone option,” he said. “I’d need to look more into that if it came as a standalone bill. Unfortunately we just didn’t have the opportunity to vote on a skinny package.”
LUCY PERKINS: The mayor of Pittsburgh, Mayor Peduto, said that the city desperately needs relief, which obviously was also included in the bill. There was a lot of money that's going to be sent to state and local governments. He said that absent a relief bill, that there would be the possibility of huge layoffs coming and some could affect first responders, including police. Was that a concern for you as you voted against the bill?

GUY RESCHENTHALER: The reason why a lot of these municipalities are having a hard time is twofold. One is they had budgets that were grossly mishandled for decades. The city of Pittsburgh, for example, has had budget problems well before COVID. The Pennsylvania government has had budget problems well before COVID. Additionally, the Democrats exacerbated that issue when they had draconian lockdown orders. They actually were not rooted in science at all, which really hurt their revenue. So, I was against bailing out blue states. I was against bailing out a lot of municipalities, because we are rewarding the bad behavior that led to the budget issues. And if you look at places like California, California actually had a budget surplus and we're still bailing them out.

PERKINS: Do you believe that outgoing U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey should have been censured by the Pennsylvania state GOP?

RESCHENTHALER: Look, I'm a supporter of Pat Toomey. He's a personal friend. But I'm not going to get between the local Republicans, their views of him, regardless. You know, I think everybody makes their own votes and you face it when you go before the electorate.

PERKINS: I want to ask you about your vote after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. You've said in other interviews that it was a symbolic gesture to vote against the certification of the election results. But well before Jan. 6, you'd already signed on to other very real action that was not at all symbolic, like the lawsuit brought by the Texas Attorney General, which asked the [U.S.] Supreme Court to throw out the results of four states, including Pennsylvania. Then hours after the attack, you took a vote premised on the theories held by those who stormed the Capitol. I'm wondering, were you worried about fueling those theories with that action?

RESCHENTHALER: No, not at all.

PERKINS: Can you expand on that?

RESCHENTHALER:  Yeah, it's very clear. So, the vote — it was symbolic in the way that I  describe it — because we knew that vote wasn’t going to overturn the election result. However, if you look at what the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did, the Supreme Court unilaterally rewrote Act 77, which is our voting law. The U.S. Constitution is very clear. The general assemblies of the states have the power to determine election [law] — frankly, laws in general. And when the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania unilaterally acted to rewrite the law, they usurped the power of the General Assembly. So, I'm not in a position to decide when the Constitution applies between day and day. I just think the Constitution applies all the time. The only option we had was to vote "no" on the certification [and] to hold the Pennsylvania Supreme Court accountable and put them on notice that they can't act as partisan hacks.

PERKINS: But to push back on that, this was hours after people stormed the U.S. Capitol, and your vote did reflect their message that that the election was not legitimate. And whether it was symbolic or not, I'm wondering if you think that that was maybe a dangerous thing to do?

RESCHENTHALER: Yeah, look, I'm not going to let an angry mob dictate the way I vote. I was going to vote "no" before and I voted "no" after. It really had no impact on my vote.

PERKINS: Do you believe that Joe Biden was legitimately elected?

RESCHENTHALER: Joe Biden is the president, that should worry a lot of people in western Pennsylvania, especially people in the oil and gas industries or who are trade unions because —

PERKINS: There's no doubt that he is the President, obviously. But do you believe that he was legitimately elected?
RESCHENTHALER:  Yeah, he's the President and that should worry a lot of people, because the policies are going to have huge issues. If you just look at immigration at the southern border, you have a crisis because of Joe Biden, because of his policies on immigration. It's leading to a lot of chaos. So, Joe Biden is the president and we should be very concerned about that.

PERKINS: So I'm hearing you say, "Yes, Joe Biden was legitimately elected?"

RESCHENTHALER: Joe Biden is the President. I don't know who is saying otherwise. Joe Biden is the president. And that's very concerning because we are heading in a bad direction, both from an economic position and a position with America vis a vis other powers on the international stage. No one, no one in the Biden administration is going to hold China accountable. No one's going to stand up to the Uighurs in concentration camps in western China. No one's going to stand up for the theft of intellectual property by the Chinese Communist Party. And because Joe Biden is president, we are heading in a bad direction.