With PA lawmakers scheduled to work over the weekend, there was hope for a budget, but instead there was a bomb threat

July 8 – After the July 4th holiday, both Pennsylvania House and Senate members were scheduled to be in their respective chambers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

But a bomb threat – and a lack of movement on budget discussions – derailed those plans. 

PA Representative Rob Kauffman explained, “We were to be back in the Capitol, trying to complete the Commonwealth’s budget, but since there was not enough progress with negotiators, they postponed that and will be back on Monday. But bad actors were still at work this weekend. There was a threat that was sent out to, I believe, all legislators and some staff. It was some kind of pro Palestinian actor threatening to detonate devices in the Capitol building. I believe it was right around 6pm on Saturday evening, a mass text went out to all of us who worked in the Capitol, telling everyone to evacuate the Capitol immediately. So the Capitol Saturday evening was evacuated, I believe Pennsylvania Capitol Police and FBI and other law enforcement officials were doing a sweep of the Capitol, and it wasn’t until after 11 o’clock last night that the all clear was sent out via text, that the Capitol was clear and it was safe to return.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “So they decide we can’t get this done. The more of a threat to people trying to get the budget done and how it impacts communities, is something awfully concerning, because was it Tuesday or Wednesday, you and I spoke, and you were going to be in for the weekend, and then so they didn’t find any progress being made, what Friday? So they decide what the heck, y’all go home after everybody is ready and poised to get this done, right?”

Kauffman confirmed, “Yes. I mean, the intent, from what I had understood, for both the House and Senate was to be in Thursday, Friday, through the weekend and then it kind of fizzled as progress wasn’t made, and they kept pushing it back. So they took away Friday, and then moved it and then it was Saturday, and then they moved it, and again, Sunday, we’re supposed to be in. Then it was moved back until Monday. There’s currently hope that it will be done within the traditional work week coming up.”

Ryan suggested, “We’ve got some really sketchy leadership in this McClinton here, but the incompetence in you doesn’t get stuff done, and you’ve upset everybody’s work schedule. You could have pushed it to next week, not dragged everybody in on a holiday weekend, and that means, I’d imagine that all the people coming in out of town, you talk about extra costs. So all these lawmakers coming in from out of town, they’re in for the weekend. I’m sure they left, but they still had the hotel rooms paid for. Everything’s paid for, really it is quite a waste of taxpayers’ money and no respect for the taxpayers’ money.”

Kauffman said, “It’s quite an awkward, to be nice, way of running things, because yes, rather than having it fairly well planned out, it was every evening you’re waiting to get the word as to whether you’re in session the following morning and they just kept canceling. I am certain there were some folks who were already in town, already on their way. It is definitely a rough way of running the show in the Capitol.” 

Ryan continued, “That’s for sure, and also disrespectful to her own people in her own party and the staffers and the folks that are running the show in Harrisburg.”

Getting back to the bomb threat, what are the details? 

Kauffman said, “We have not gotten any kind of report on where it stands, as far as the investigation, but it started, I guess late to mid Saturday afternoon. Then the all clear was close to midnight on Saturday night, and so I would certainly anticipate that they’re doing a full investigation trying to get to the bottom of it. I’m certain they’re going through it very diligently. The threat was something of the sort where we’re going to detonate devices in the capital until President Biden denounces Israel. It was a very vague, but kind of omnibus threat that was sent out to everyone. Some of the news sources got a hold of the emails that were sent out and it was placed in the news late Saturday evening.”