HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf has taken the ‘extraordinary’ step of recalling the appointments of seven Cabinet members in response to a threat by Senate Republicans not to confirm his nominees for the Public Utility Committee if the administration continues its planned entry into a regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI).
A spokeswoman for the governor said Cabinet officials could continue to do their jobs without Senate confirmation.
“For now, the governor has withdrawn several of his appointments because the Wolf administration will not let his cabinet officials be held hostage by Senate Republicans’ insistence on halting progress on policy issues important to them. citizens of Pennsylvania. Individuals will continue to serve on an interim basis. The title “to act” has no impact on their ability to do the job in any way, ”said Lyndsay Kensinger, spokesperson for the governor.
The seven officials whose nominations were withdrawn are: Acting Adjutant General Mark Schindler, Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid, Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega, Acting Secretary of Labor and industry Jennifer Berrier, Acting Secretary of Human Services Meg Snead, Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam and Acting Medical Officer Denise Johnson, according to State Senator John Gordner, County of R-Columbia, Deputy Chairman of the Senate Rules and Executive Appointments Committee.
Gordner called Wolf’s decision “extraordinary” and added that Senate leaders have not decided to honor Wolf’s request. Last November, Wolf sought to recall the appointment of victims’ lawyer Jennifer Storm, but the Senate ignored him and voted against her confirmation.
He said if the Senate ignored Wolf’s recall request, it was not even clear that the Senate would not confirm the candidates.
“We can take any action on them,” Gordner said.
The Senate was preparing to confirm Berrier as Secretary of Labor and Industry before Wolf recalled his appointment, Gordner said.
Wolf’s decision came a week after all Senate Republicans, along with Senator John Yudickak, an independent from Luzerne County, signed a letter threatening to vote against Wolf’s candidates for the PUC over the RGGI controversy.
Wolf announced his plan in 2019 to join the RGGI – whose existing members include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont – a capping agreement and exchange intended to limit the production of greenhouse gases.
“We have made it clear over the past 19 months that this is about the balance of power in Pennsylvania,” said Senator Joe Pittman of R-Indiana County. “One of the key components of the RGGI is a tax on carbon emissions. In itself, that would destroy thousands of family jobs across the Commonwealth. Beyond that, the power to tax is a function of the legislative power and not of the executive power. It is dangerous to tolerate the governor unilaterally imposing a tax. This moratorium on the confirmation of PUC candidates reminds the governor that Pennsylvania has three separate and co-equal branches of government.