McClinton sworn in as House Majority Leader

HARRISBURG, Dec. 7 – Today, state Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, was sworn in for the 2023/24 legislative session. As House majority leader, McClinton becomes the House’s presiding officer. She is the first woman in Pennsylvania history to serve in that role.

House Democrats won the majority of districts in the Nov. 8 General Election. As majority leader, McClinton’s appointment as presiding officer is established by law and consistent with legal precedent set in 2004, when the majority leader, Republican Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, served as the House’s presiding officer on Dec. 9, 2004, to schedule a special election to fill a seat vacated by a Republican lawmaker in the 189th legislative district. 

“Pennsylvanians cast their ballots in the free and fair 2022 General Election. The results of that election are not in dispute and in the majority of legislative districts - 102 out of 203 - the people of Pennsylvania voted to elect a Democrat to represent them in the House of Representatives. Pennsylvania’s voters have spoken, and the will of the people is the ultimate authority in this Commonwealth,” McClinton said.

“If there was a mandate delivered to the General Assembly, it is to work together in a bipartisan manner. Our caucus embraces this mandate, because it means we’re going to have to fundamentally change the way our chamber operates. Our caucus will govern in a way that is representative of our diverse commonwealth. Rather than bottling up bills in committee just because they were introduced by the opposing party, we’ll welcome debate on policy ideas to strengthen and improve them. We will stay grounded in the needs of the Pennsylvanians who sent us to Harrisburg to represent them, not partake in political games at the expense of our communities. Rather than take advantage of parliamentary procedure to advance a partisan agenda, we will collaborate with our partners across the aisle, across the building in the Senate, and with the incoming gubernatorial administration. 

“After more than a decade of Republican management, today is a fresh start. A day for new leaders, new perspectives and new collegiality.  I am confident that together we can do amazing things to advance our commonwealth.”

As majority leader and presiding officer, McClinton’s first official action was to set the date for three special elections to replace lawmakers from Allegheny County. Special elections for the 32nd district, vacated by Rep. Tony DeLuca, who died in October; the 34th district vacated by Rep. Summer Lee, who was elected to Congress; and the 35th district, vacated by Lt. Governor-elect Austin Davis are set for Feb. 7, 2023. 

“To ensure every Pennsylvanian has representation and to restore the state House to its full complement as quickly as possible, I set the special elections for early February,” McClinton said. “By having all three elections on the same day, hopefully we can maximize voter awareness and participation.”

In her role as majority leader, McClinton will also serve as acting speaker until a speaker is elected.  This is consistent with precedent set during the 2003/04 session when Majority Leader John Perzel, R-Phila., served as acting speaker for several weeks following the death of Speaker Matt Ryan, R-Delaware.

In her role as acting speaker, McClinton set the House session schedule for the first 60 days of the legislative session.McClinton has served the 191st district, which includes portions of southwest and west Philadelphia and Yeadon and Darby boroughs in Delaware County since August 2015, when she won a special election. In 2018, she was elected the House Democratic Caucus chair, the first woman and African American to hold that post, and in 2020 she was elected to serve as Democratic leader. McClinton is the first woman to serve as a floor leader of either party in the 246-year history of the state House of Representatives.