Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman has been receiving attention in recent days after it was revealed that he had been hospitalized due to depression and anxiety prior to co-sponsoring a bill that he has been outspokenly supportive of.
The bill in question, known as House Bill 899, was introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in February and seeks to limit the power of the state’s governor to declare a state of emergency. Fetterman’s office said he had been hospitalized for a few days in March due to his mental state and had not been actively involved in the bill’s introduction.
While there is no suggestion that Fetterman’s mental health affected the bill, the timing of the hospitalization and the bill’s introduction have raised eyebrows. In a statement, Fetterman said he had been hospitalized for “severe, debilitating depression and anxiety.” He added that it was important for him to share his story in order to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues.
The bill has been seen as a rebuke of the state’s governor, Tom Wolf, who has declared a state of emergency several times over the past several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fetterman has been outspoken in his support of Wolf’s policies, but he has also been critical of the governor’s use of emergency powers.
Legislators from both sides of the aisle have expressed their support for Fetterman and have called for mental health to be taken more seriously in the state. Wolf has also released a statement wishing Fetterman a speedy recovery.
The mystery surrounding Fetterman and the bill continues to swirl, and it remains to be seen if any further details regarding the situation will be revealed. In the meantime, the conversation has at least brought mental health issues to the forefront of the public consciousness in Pennsylvania and may help to reduce the stigma associated with such issues