Boyle Floor Speech Defending PA Electoral Votes
Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-02) delivered the speech that follows to a joint session of the 117th U.S.Congress on January 6, 2021. It was delivered in defense of PA Electoral College votes that were being challenged:
Madam Speaker, Fellow Members:
Today we will not pick the next president. For the people did that on November 3rd. Rather, today, in this House, we will decide whether American democracy survives. Let us be under no illusion. These are the stakes. If this objection succeeds, and the will of 7 million Pennsylvania voters is cast aside, it will end our representative democracy.
There is no reasonable debate about what happened in this election in Pennsylvania.
Almost 7 million Pennsylvanians voted. Joe Biden won by over 80,000 votes. This was certified by bipartisan local elected officials, including Republican officials; And every single court, whether the judge is a Democrat or Republican, has reaffirmed the outcome.
Now, the objectors claim we do not know the will of the people because the election in Pennsylvania was somehow conducted corruptly. Much of their objection centers around the state law passed in 2019, known as Act 77, that gives voters the option of expanded mail-in voting. Objectors are alleging this law was somehow a plot by Democrats to disadvantage Republicans and rig elections. This is false.
Here are the facts:
- Act 77 was a Republican-led effort in the Republican-controlled legislature.
- Literally every single Republican in the Pennsylvania Senate voted for it.
- In the state House, 105 Republicans voted for it; and only 2 voted against it.
Here is what the Republican Speaker of the Pennsylvania House said about Act 77: “This bill does not benefit one party or the other, or any one candidate or single election. It was developed over a multi-year period, with input from people of different backgrounds and regions of Pennsylvania. It serves to preserve the integrity of every election and lift the voice of every voter in the Commonwealth.”
There is no question as to the facts surrounding this election. They are as clear as they are overwhelming. The only question that remains is this: will this House reaffirm our fidelity to our democracy, or will we end it?
I must concede, Madam Speaker, I have been naïve about one subject. I always just assumed our democracy would naturally endure. I never even questioned it until the last several years.
Two centuries ago, one of our Founding Fathers, cautioned against this. John Adams wrote, “Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
I now realize the wisdom of his words. Never again, will I take for granted our democracy. It must be defended by every generation. Always.
But despite the alarm I feel that our democracy has been brought to this breaking point, I still maintain hope.
Growing up in Philadelphia, and raised in an immigrant family, I was often brought down to tour the historic sites. Every summer, without fail, we would spend a day seeing Independence Hall, Congress Hall, the Liberty Bell.
It was at Independence Hall, where our nation was declared free and our Constitution born. At the Constitutional Convention, the oldest and the most widely accomplished delegate was Benjamin Franklin, one of our greatest Founding Fathers, and my city’s greatest citizen. Physically feeble, he rarely spoke throughout the Convention. In a notable address toward the close of the Convention, he gently urged dissenting delegates to put aside their legitimate criticisms and unite to adopt our Constitution.
On the final day, as the last delegates were signing the document, Franklin pointed toward the sun on the back of the Convention president's chair. Observing that painters had found it difficult to distinguish between a rising sun from a setting sun, Franklin went on to say: "I have often ... in the course of the session ... looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun."
Madam Speaker, on a day like today, when a mob has stormed the Capitol and some Members are threatening the core of our democracy, it can be hard to tell whether, for American democracy, the sun is rising or setting. But I maintain my faith, that with an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress, we will uphold the will of the people and our democracy will live.