Pennsylvania Senate Session Descends Into Screaming Match Over Poverty Assistance Program (General Assistance ending July 31st)

July 26, 2019

June 29, 2019, Tara Law - Time Magazine

The Pennsylvania senate’s state budget negotiations descended into chaos on Wednesday when lawmakers and activists clashed over the elimination of a cash assistance program for the state’s neediest people.

 

The PA General Assistance Program, which the house voted to end last week, provided roughly $200 a month to about 11,095 of the state’s poorest residents, including many who don’t qualify for other assistance programs or are waiting for approval, Penn Live reported.

 

The most explosive moment of the debate came when Republicans called for a vote, but Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman instead allowed another Democrat – Katie Muth – to stand and read a letter from a beneficiary of the program.

 

As Muth tried to read, Republicans – including Republican Majority Leader Jake Corman – began to scream over her.

 

“Mr. President, your role is to enforce the rules of the senate, not to be a partisan hack,” Corman shouted, demanding that Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, a Republican, let the legislators vote.

 

Muth later released the letter on Twitter “in case the angry man yelling blocked out some of the words,” she wrote.

 

The Senate ultimately voted to end the program, but not before Democrats and activists showed that they weren’t willing to let the program go quietly.

 

Read more about the decision to end General Assistance here

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