Pa. U.S Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick just passed a key gut-check test. Here’s why | Wednesday Morning Coffee

February 27, 2019 7:00 am

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Remember these words – they may be the most important words uttered by any sitting member of Congress during this very young session:

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District (WikiMedia Commons)

“This is much bigger than any one issue, and any one President. This is about the Constitution, the separation of powers, and about setting precedents that apply equally to all future Congresses and all future Presidents.”

That’s U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, taking to Twitter on Tuesday, just before the U.S. House voted along party lines to nullify President Donald Trump’semergency declaration on The Wall.

Fitzpatrick along with 13 of his fellow Republicans, defected to vote with Democrats, in the 245-182 vote to approve the resolution, which heads to the Senate. Fitzpatrick was the outlier among Pennsylvania Republicans, who fell reliably in line with the White House.

“Two facts are abundantly clear – we have a crisis at our southern border and the President has the legal authority to declare a national emergency to address it,” freshman U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District, said in a statement that reflected the majority GOP sentiment. “In recent years, the number of large migrant groups crossing the southern border has skyrocketed and since 2012 our U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have seized more than 11 million pounds of drugs between ports of entry. The best way to combat these developments, as evidenced by the successes we have seen in places like El Paso, Tucson and Yuma, is to allocate adequate funding for physical barriers in the places where we need them.”

Make no mistake about it: In every way that matters, Tuesday was a serious gut-check for Republicans, who were asked to choose between showing naked loyalty to the White House or loyalty to the Constitutional principles that theoretically underpin the Republican Party.

Fitzpatrick correctly located his gut, stepped up, and did the right thing.

Make no mistake about it, there’s been a slow creep of executive power over the last 20 years – so there’s nothing particularly new about Trump’s power grab. What makes it unusual is Trump’s sheer audacity in declaring an emergency when a: He acknowledged none existed and B: He did it simply because he didn’t get his way.

And also make no mistake about it: Fitzpatrick is already a target in a suburban Philadelphia district that Democrats would dearly like to flip in 2020. His emergence as a critic of Trump’s White House is an instance where enlightened self-interest and loyalty to principles converge.

Even so, Fitzpatrick can rest easy in the knowledge that, when it counted, he put country above party. And even if it was a play to help save his skin next year, it’s not a bad place to make a stand.

Our Stuff:
Here’s a complete rundown of reaction from 16 of 18 members of the Pa. House delegation.
Capital-Star Washington reporter Robin Bravender has some additional context.
Staff Reporter Stephen Caruso explains why the Pa. Supreme Court and Legislature may go head-to-head over medical malpractice rules.
Associate Editor Sarah Anne Hughes goes deep on an innovative welfare-to-work program. 
Elizabeth Hardison has more on the debate over whether Pennsylvania will increase its $7.25/hr minimum wage.

On the Opinion side of the house, these five charts explain the high cost of childcare; why election security also depends on well-trained poll workers, and GOP special election candidate D.Raja makes the case for his candidacy.

The Inquirer 
explains the spring primary issue that most Philly voters have never heard of.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is backing a $15 minimum wage bill, The Associated Press reports (via PennLive).
State university leaders are looking to the Legislature to help them achieve a tuition-freeze goalPennLive reports.
The Post-Gazette profiles Second Lady Gisele Fetterman, and her goal of spreading public service across Pennsylvania.
BillyPenn explains how a black chef from Philadelphia helped create the catering industry as we know it.
There are CBD ice cream sandwiches now. Because, of course (via The Incline).

Here’s a very scenic #Instagram of the Day:

The Morning Call has the details on a grisly murder-suicide in Bucks County.
In the 37th Senate race, Republican D.Raja is trying to tie his Democratic competitor, Pam Iovinoto Bernie Sanders and AOCPoliticsPa reports. profiles the farmers trying to make it big on hemp.
Politico has the bottom line on MIchael Cohen’s turn before Congress.
Roll Call has even more.

“The problem is that the President can’t pay for this emergency, unless he takes money from other important projects like the new construction planned at our own reserve Air Force base in Moon Township. This $85 million project will create more than 200 jobs and have a $200 million impact on our local economy.” – U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, on why he voted against the Trump emergency declaration.

What Goes On.
Budget hearings roll on in the House and Senate Appropriations committees.
Here’s the House schedule, as always, all meetings are in Room 140 Main Capitol:
10 a.m.: Gaming Control Board
1 p.m.: Dept. of Community & Economic Development
3 p.m.: Liquor Control Board
Here’s the Senate schedule – all meetings in Hearing Room 1, North Office Building:
10 a.m.: Dept. of Health

Gov. Tom Wolf 
heads to Fort Indiantown Gap for a 10:45 a.m. newser touting a “first-in-the-nation education program to benefit National Guard” families.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from Manic Street Preachers that pretty much sums up the vibe. It’s ‘If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next.

Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
rolled over LA 6-1 on Tuesday. The team’s post-game celebration took aim at Don Cherry’s ‘Bunch of Jerks’ criticisms

And now you’re up to date. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.