Pennsylvania Republicans are demanding that John Fetterman release a video “to show us he is alive and well,” or face an intervention from other lawmakers if he is “unable to do this.”
Fetterman is being treated for clinical depression at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Maryland. According to Adam Jentleson, his chief of staff, Fetterman “checked himself into” the facility on February 15, with a source in his team predicting that he would be in hospital for “several weeks.”
Fetterman was elected as a Democratic senator in November in a tightly fought race. He defeated Trump-endorsed Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz by 51 percent of the vote to 46 percent.
If Fetterman resigns, it would trigger a special election, giving the GOP a chance to increase its Senate representation to 50. This would make the Democrats reliant on Senator Kyrsten Sinema (who became an independent in December but still caucuses with the party) and on the vice president’s casting vote to maintain overall control.
Democratic Senator John Fetterman is ceremonially sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris for the 118th Congress in the Old Senate Chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 3, 2023. Republicans are calling for Fetterman to release a video “to show us he is alive and well,” as he continued to be treated in hospital. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/GETTY
On February 28, the Washington County Republican Party released a statement about Fetterman’s health on Facebook. Chair Sean Logue wrote that the party refuses “to take assurances from the Office of the Senate or Democrat operation” that Fetterman “is able to carry out his duties as Senator.”
The statement continued: “We call upon Senator Fetterman to appear on camera to show us he is alive and well, and if he is unable to do so, we call upon our elected Representatives in Washington, Senator [Bob] Casey and Congressman [Guy] Reschenthaler, to intervene immediately.
“Ultimately, if Fetterman is unable or unwilling to carry out his duties as a United States Senator, then we ask for his resignation and call for a special election to be held this year; no more lies or games.”
Shortly afterwards, Joe Calvello, Fetterman’s communications director, said in a statement that the senator was “doing well” and “on a path to recovery.” Calvello added: “He is visiting with staff and family daily, and his staff are keeping him updated on Senate business and news.”
Logue told Newsweek that the Washington County Republican Party had not received the video it requested. He said: “We have been professional and polite, but the only responses we have gotten are hate mail or calls where our request has been twisted into an attack on people with mental-health challenges.”
Logue added: “The campaign lied about Senator Fetterman’s fitness for office, and threatened anyone who questioned it.”
Newsweek has emailed Senator Fetterman for comment.
In May 2022, Fetterman suffered a major stroke, which he said “changes everything” about his life.
Speaking to The New York Times earlier this month, Jentleson, Fetterman’s chief-of-staff, said they had been “honest” about “what’s going on.”
Jentleson continued: “The attacks will be what they’re going to be, but the attacks aren’t going to be any worse if he was in a few extra weeks. The main thing is for him to come out and not have to go back.”