U.S. Senate Dems agree on abortion access; divided on court expansion, abolishing Electoral College

By: - April 26, 2022 9:38 am

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, and Jenkintown Borough Councilmember Alex Khalil participate in a 90-minute debate Monday, April 25, 2022. (Screenshot)

The Democratic race for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania has seen a tone shift in recent weeks, with candidates trying to set themselves apart as they seek their party’s nomination.

All four candidates — U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, and Jenkintown Borough Councilmember Alex Khalil — shared a stage in a 90-minute debate Monday night. They faced questions about the economy, reproductive rights, and foreign affairs.

They agreed on not wanting to defund the police and eliminating the filibuster. Every candidate said that keeping Roe v. Wade — the landmark court decision declaring abortion a constitutional right — would be a “litmus test” for any future U.S. Supreme Court nominee. They all supported statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico.

However, the candidates were not on the same page regarding government spending, expanding the court, or abolishing the Electoral College.

Here is where they stand:

Government spending

Every candidate, except Lamb, said that the Biden administration’s spending has not contributed to inflation.

“Whenever we invest in working people, in actual people, you hear about how it’s unaffordable, how it doesn’t make sense. You didn’t hear that when it was time to bail out the big banks,” Kenyatta said, promoting the child tax credit.

Khalil blamed so-called “price gougers” for driving up costs, and Fetterman said the American Rescue Plan invested in the middle class.

Expanding the U.S. Supreme Court

Kenyatta and Khalil were the only candidates to support expanding the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kenyatta noted that Republicans, while in control of the U.S. Senate, blocked a nominee put forth by former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and later rushed through the nomination process for a nominee put forth by former President Donald Trump.

“The Supreme Court has its lowest public trust that it’s ever had,” Kenyatta said. “We have to fix that.”

Fetterman said that Democrats should not “rig the rules simply because we do not like the outcome.”

Lamb described the question as a “trap.” He said no one has asked him to add another justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“People are looking for a little bit of stability and practicality in our priorities,” he said. “They want to know where do we really stand at the end of the day. Adding a justice to the Supreme Court is completely over their head, and I think every moment we’re not talking about people and what they’re going through right now is a wasted moment.”

Abolishing the electoral college

Kenyatta was the only candidate to support abolishing the Electoral College.

“The Electoral College serves no purpose other than to continue to muddy up this idea that there should be one person in one vote,” he said, adding that it “erodes people’s faith in our election.”

Fetterman and Khalil warned against changing the rules to avoid unfavorable results.

“You win elections. You lose elections,” Khalil said. “We cannot act like the last president and just get upset and say, ‘Well, we’re going to change the Electoral College.”

Fetterman added that the Democratic Party needs to be “logically consistent.”

“We need to make sure that we’re not changing the structure of our government at a fundamental level,” Fetterman said.

Lamb noted that abolishing the Electoral College would require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, something he said won’t happen.

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Marley Parish
Marley Parish

A Pennsylvania native, Marley Parish covers the Senate for the Capital-Star. She previously reported on government, education and community issues for the Centre Daily Times and has a background in writing, editing and design. A graduate of Allegheny College, Marley served as editor of the campus newspaper, where she also covered everything from student government to college sports.

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