Sen. John Fetterman is back—and telling it like it is

Sen. John Fetterman rightfully earned headlines earlier this year for publicly dealing with his mental health struggle. He has used his experience to try to destigmatize mental illness, openly talking about his treatment and recovery as a way to “pay it forward” and make mental health recognition and treatment a national issue.

The Pennsylvania Democrat definitely appears to be recovered, and he’s bringing the no-bullshit fire that supporters expected when they elected him last year. He’s taking on Republicans with all the ridicule and disdain they deserve.

House Republicans trying to gin up a ridiculous impeachment investigation of President Joe Biden? “Go ahead. Do it, I dare you,” Fetterman said, speaking to reporters Wednesday. “If you can find the votes, go ahead, because you’re going to lose. It’s a loser.”

“It would just be like a big circle jerk on the fringe right,” Fetterman continued. “Sometimes you just gotta call their bullshit. If they’re going to threaten, then let’s see it.” Yep, that’s telling it like it is, in the kind of language it demands.

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He isn’t saving his candor for just the House assholes, either. He has a few choice observations about Republican freshman Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio, the faux-populist and former venture capitalist with a law degree from Yale University and an estimated net worth of $7 million in 2022. A bipartisan group of senators, including Fetterman and Vance, has been working on rail safety legislation following the disastrous derailment of a train carrying hazardous substances in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this year.

Fetterman is directly questioning Vance’s commitment to that legislation and to working in a bipartisan manner to get it done. He told reporters that they could be as close as just one vote away from having the 60 they need to get the bill to the floor, but instead of focusing on that, Vance is spending his time on a MAGA-friendly bill to ban mask mandates on public transportation, airplanes, and in public schools.

Vance is "fixating" on "silly performance art," Fetterman said. "You know, 'breathe free' or whatever it's called.” He added that Vance should be "focusing on getting [the train safety bill] finished and taken care of.” He continued by saying Vance "wants to put up an act that's going to go nowhere" rather than "something that really can be transformative for rail safety."

"It's bizarre," Fetterman said. "No one is trying to force masks back on." It’s bizarre both from a policy standpoint and as a waste of the Senate’s time, but it’s also totally performative and a middle finger to the Democrats that Vance is supposedly working with to pass the rail bill. He’s putting MAGA nonsense ahead of critical work.

Fetterman is absolutely right in calling that out. More of that please, Democratic senators.

Why does it seem like Republicans have such a hard time recruiting Senate candidates who actually live in the states they want to run in? We're discussing this strange but persistent phenomenon on this week's edition of "The Downballot." The latest example is former Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, who's been spending his time in Florida since leaving the House in 2015, but he's not the only one. Republican Senate hopefuls in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Montana, and Wisconsin all have questionable ties to their home states—a problem that Democrats have gleefully exploited in recent years. (Remember Dr. Oz? Of course you do.)