Fetterman Must Prove Fitness to Serve or Resign

News & Politics

Republicans in Pennsylvania are calling on Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) to either demonstrate that he is fit to serve in the U.S. Senate or resign.

John Fetterman had barely started serving in the U.S. Senate before he was hospitalized after becoming lightheaded at a Senate Democrat retreat. This alone raised legitimate questions about whether he was truly fit to serve. Not long after he was released, he admitted himself to Walter Reed hospital for treatment for severe depression. He remains there now, weeks later.

The most recent update on his condition was vague, to say the least.

“We don’t have a lot to update folks with since there’s no real news to report except that John is doing well, working with the wonderful doctors, and remains on a path to recovery,” Fetterman’s communications director Joe Calvello said in a statement earlier this week.

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Statements like this have done little to assure Republicans—and why should they? Fetterman, his campaign, and his doctor clearly lied about his fitness to serve during the campaign, and there’s little reason to have any confidence that Fetterman’s staff isn’t being completely honest now.

The Washington County (Pennsylvania) Republican Party released a statement this week indicating that it “refuses to take assurances from the Office of the Senator or Democrat operatives that Fetterman is able to carry out his duties as Senator.”

“As such, we call upon Senator Fetterman to appear on camera to show us he is alive and well, and if he is unable to do so, we call upon our elected Representatives in Washington, Senator Casey and Congressman Reschenthaler, to intervene immediately. Ultimately, if Fetterman is unable or unwilling to carry out his duties as a United States Senator, then we ask for his resignation and call for a special election to be held this year.”

Related: Fetterman Might Have Permanent Brain Damage, Chief of Staff Admits

Of course, Democrats see things a little differently. “There is no contingency plan and it is 100% Senator Fetterman’s decision as to what he will do in the future,” Josh Shapiro, the Democrat governor of Pennsylvania, said this week. “I’m proud of Senator Fetterman for getting the help that he needs and I’m there for Gisele and their family. And I know the people of Pennsylvania I’ve talked to are encouraging him along to get the help that he needs.”

That’s all fine and good, but what good does that do for the people of Pennsylvania? Currently, they are without full representation in the Senate, and there is no timetable for Fetterman to return—and there’s no guarantee that, should he return, he’d suddenly be able to handle the job. Based on past reports, his struggle to adapt to life in the U.S. Senate is what sent him into severe depression.

According to Ballotpedia, if Fetterman were to resign, his seat would be temporarily filled by a gubernatorial appointment, and a special election would be held to fill the seat for the remainder of the term at the next statewide election, which would be in 2024. In light of Fetterman’s lies about his health and what is expected to be good political conditions for Republicans in 2024, the prospect of a special election in 2024 most certainly frightens Democrats—especially since Sen. Bob Casey is also up for reelection next year.

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