A day after President Donald J. Trump in a fiery debate questioned election integrity in Pennsylvania, state House Republicans pushed a plan out of committee to investigate the presidential election.
The resolution to create the Select Committee on Election Integrity would give lawmakers the power “to investigate, review and make recommendations concerning the regulation and conduct of the 2020 election.”
The new committee would be composed of five members — three Republicans, because they are the majority party, and two Democrats — who would be chosen by House Speaker Bryan Cutler, a Republican from Lancaster.
Together, they would have the authority to subpoena election officials, the U.S. postal service and examine aspects of the election, even while voting and counting are in process.
But Rep. Garth Everett, a Republican from Lycoming County who leads the House State Government Committee, said the goal is to do that work after Election Day.
“The intent of the resolution would be to do this post-election, and look and see what was good, what was bad, what we can do better," he said.
The measure on Wednesday passed the House State Government Committee 15-10 and is expected to get a House floor vote Thursday.
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Democrats opposed the resolution and raised concerns about Republicans starting partisan investigations before Election Day.
“Democracies die slowly,” said Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, a Democrat from Philadelphia who was a featured rising star during the Democratic National Convention. “And I think that this bill would be a fatal blow to our democracy.”
Rep. Pam DeLissio, a Democrat from Montgomery County, said she thinks her constituents would have "grave and serious concerns" that these investigations would be conducted in a manner that could interfere with the election.
Everett said his committee would not have the power to change any laws and would only be able to investigate and make recommendations.
But House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, a Democrat from Allegheny County, said the new panel is a “power grab” and “the last thing the House of Representative should be doing right now.”
“With ... no apparent limitation on their breadth, there’s a real potential for serious harm to the ongoing election," Dermody said. "As this is currently written, it’s even possible the committee could try to impound uncounted ballots."
Gov. Tom Wolf in a statement Wednesday called it "a partisan attack" that undermines election integrity.
"The House Republicans are not only walking in lockstep with President Trump to try to sow chaos and put the results of the election in question, they are also taking steps to take the authority to administer elections away from the Department of State," Wolf said.
He said the "unprecedented attack on non-partisan election administrators" comes at a time when state officials should be instilling confidence in Pennsylvania elections.
"Despite the best efforts of the House Republicans, Pennsylvania will administer our elections safely and securely," Wolf said. "And we will stand up to House Republicans’ partisan efforts to interfere in our elections to benefit themselves and their political schemes."
Candy Woodall is a reporter for the USA Today Network. She can be reached at 717-480-1783 or on Twitter at @candynotcandace. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a digital subscription.
This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Pennsylvania Republicans move ahead with plan to investigate election