Burns votes to send disaster termination resolution to full House

Seeks GOP assurances PA won’t lose $1.5 billion in federal funding

HARRISBURG, May 21 – Making a tough but necessary vote in order to let the full House consider a resolution to end the COVID-19 disaster declaration issued by Gov. Tom Wolf, state Rep. Frank Burns today also sought assurances that Pennsylvania won’t be stripped of future federal funding if the legislature takes that strong action.

During a Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee meeting, Burns, D-Cambria, broke ranks with his House Democratic peers to cast a yes vote on House Resolution 836.  The vote moves the process forward to provide the full legislature an option, if needed, to terminate the disaster declaration ending the shutdown.

“I hope this gets the governor’s attention, and he begins to work more seriously in collaboration with members of the legislature," Burns said. "The governor has so far provided few answers and little transparency."

After Wolf authorized curbside pickup from wine and spirits stores last month, Burns sent a letter asking Wolf to offer the opportunity for curbside pickup to all businesses statewide, but has yet to hear a response. 

Burns argued that if it’s safe enough for state-owned liquor stores to provide curbside pick-up, then it should be safe enough for all other businesses to do the same.

Burns’ idea has been embraced by more than 60 House Democrats from hard-hit areas such as Philadelphia and northeastern Pennsylvania who followed suit this week in asking Wolf to make curbside pickup the rule for everyone.

“While it’s great to see so many colleagues embrace my sensible plan to safely reopen our economy, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears, as the governor has yet to respond,” Burns said. “The legislature is an equal branch of government, but we’re not being treated as such."

Voicing concerns over H.R. 836, Burns asked several pointed questions as it was deliberated by the committee – including whether the bold and unprecedented move could potentially cost Pennsylvania $1.5 billion in future COVID-19-related federal funding.

Burns said his questions resulted in GOP majority committee chairman Stephen Barrar confirming to Burns the existence of “a letter from the White House” stating that Pennsylvania would not lose federal funding should the legislature ultimately vote to end Wolf’s disaster declaration.

“In my role as a committee member, I want to make absolutely sure we have something in writing instead of relying on word-of-mouth,” Burns said. “I plan to ask Chairman Barrar for a copy of this letter, so I can see it for myself and share it with all Pennsylvanians, since we all have a tremendous stake in this important decision.

“It’s time we put politics and personal agendas aside and focus on working together to do what’s best for the people of Pennsylvania.”