There is NO plan for John Fetterman to resign, Pennsylvania governor says


Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said Monday that he does not expect Sen. John Fetterman to resign and that “there is no contingency plan” for choosing a replacement.

Fetterman checked into Walter Reed Army Medical Center on February 16 for impatient treatment for “major” depression after being hospitalized for dizziness after the State of the Union and suffering a stroke in May.

The Democratic senator’s office said Monday that he “remains on the road to recovery,” but did not disclose any additional details.

He has stayed away from social media since checking into Bethesda hospital, while his wife Gisele posted last week that she briefly took her children to Canada while they figured out how to ‘navigate this journey’.

Shapiro, also a Democrat, would be responsible for choosing Fetterman’s interim replacement should he decide to resign his seat, with a special election to fill out the remainder of his six-year term on Election Day in November 2024.

Governor of Pennsylvania Josh Shapiro

There are no plans for Sen. John Fetterman (left) to resign, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (right) said in an interview Monday. Fetterman has been at Walter Reed for nearly two weeks after checking into Bethesda hospital for treatment for depression.

In an interview with NBC News On Monday, Shapiro said he hopes the 53-year-old Fetterman “serves for a long time,” adding that he did not feel Democrats were pressuring Fetterman to resign or forcing him to stay in his seat.

Pennsylvania’s other Democratic senator, Bob Casey, is up for re-election in November 2024, so Democrats would have to defend two seats in a highly competitive swing state should Fetterman withdraw.

Asked if there is a contingency plan in place in case Fetterman decides he wants to resign, Shapiro told the network: “There is no contingency plan and it is 100 percent Senator Fetterman’s decision as to what he will do in the future. future”. ‘

White House senior deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton was asked Tuesday if the president was concerned that Fetterman’s potential absence for weeks could complicate the confirmation process for his newly announced pick for labor secretary, Julie His.

Dalton said he had “nothing further to read” and again said the president and first lady were “thinking of John, Gisele and the whole family right now.”

“Millions of Americans go without treatment for depression every day, Senator Fetterman did the right and brave thing to get the help he needs,” she added. “And we are grateful to Senator Fetterman for leading by example and taking the time he needs to get healthy.”

Gisele Fetterman (above left) said she took the couple's children to Canada in the days after her husband checked into Walter Reed for inpatient therapy to treat severe depression.

Gisele Fetterman (above left) said she took the couple’s children to Canada in the days after her husband checked into Walter Reed for inpatient therapy to treat severe depression.

Dalton could not say if the president had personally spoken to Fetterman in the nearly two weeks since he was hospitalized.

Shapiro told NBC that he has been texting with Gisele.

And I hope you’re getting the care you need. It was a brave thing to do, to ask for help, to ask for that care,” Shapiro said.

“I think we have a real stigma in this country associated with asking for help when you have mental health issues and the fact that Senator Fetterman, who is obviously a very public figure, raised his hand and said I need help, and he was able to sign up for that help, I think that’s very inspiring,” Shapiro also said. “And I hope that not only he gets the help, but I also hope that others who are watching can maybe reduce some of the stigma associated with getting that care and going to seek care for themselves.

In the days after Fetterman checked on Walter Reed, a senior aide told NBC News that he was expected to be sidelined from the Senate for weeks while treatment progressed.

It will take time for doctors to get Fetterman’s medication right, the network said.

A senior aide told NBC it’s been hard to tell the difference between the senator’s stroke recovery and depression, and the staffer says it’s sometimes unclear if “he’s not listening to him or if he’s crippled by his depression and social anxiety”.

CNN reported that Fetterman’s symptoms included weight loss and poor appetite, which led to his stay at George Washington University Hospital in the days before his stay at Walter Reed.

Fetterman’s chief of staff, Adam Jentleson, had said the senator “experienced depression from time to time throughout his life” but ultimately decided to seek treatment when he was examined by Dr. Brian Monahan, the congressional deputy physician. from United States.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that the Democrat has had trouble adjusting to life as a senator.

Fetterman declined an interview with the newspaper, but his advisers and allies said the already difficult transition to the Senate was made “much more difficult by the stresses of his recovery,” noting that it left him “with a physical handicap and serious problems of mental health”. ‘

He still suffers from auditory processing issues, which means he has to use devices that provide closed captioning to interact with his colleagues and Senate constituents and participate in committee hearings.

When people talk to Fetterman, they hear something akin to how adults in the Peanuts cartoons sound: squawks provided by a muted trombone, The Times reported.

In addition to the hearing problem, which is exacerbated when Fetterman feels stressed, the Times reported that recovery from the stroke had taken a “very real psychological toll” on the politician.

Up to a third of people who have a stroke develop symptoms of depression, according to the Stroke Association.

Fetterman’s political brand was somewhat tied to his offbeat tough-guy appearance: Standing at 6-foot-8 with tattooed arms, a shaved head, and a goatee, the former mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, looked like he stepped straight out of a Pittsburgh steel mill. .

However, as The Times said, the stroke turned him into a “physically altered version of himself” and the senator is “frustrated” that he has not yet fully recovered.

Additionally, Fetterman reportedly worried that he may have been permanently delayed, as he did not take enough time off during the campaign to rest.

“What you’re supposed to do to recover from this is to do as little as possible,” Jentleson had told the newspaper. Instead, Fetterman “was forced to go all out: he had to get back on the campaign trail.” It’s hard to get that back.

Allies of his Republican rival in the Senate, Dr. Mehmet Oz, were questioning his mental capacity while Fetterman remained sidelined and out of public view for most of the summer.

“If John Fetterman were elected to the Senate and he couldn’t communicate effectively, if he couldn’t relate to the press, if he couldn’t relate to his colleagues, he couldn’t get the job done,” the Pennsylvania representative said. withdraw from Republican Senator Pat Toomey in September.

‘It’s just not possible to be an effective senator if you can’t communicate. It’s just the essence of the job,” Toomey added, pressing Fetterman to debate Oz.

Fetterman debated Oz in late October, and his rocky performance left even Democrats on edge.

Fetterman’s speech was garbled and he had to use closed captioning technology to understand the moderators and Oz’s responses.

Still, Fetterman beat out the Trump-backed Oz by five percentage points, giving Democrats an additional Senate seat in what was likely the most-watched 2022 Senate race.