For the third time in American history, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach the President of the United States.
On Wednesday evening, the House voted forward two articles of impeachment, charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The first article passed 230-197, while the second article passed 229-198.
Mostly mirroring the overall vote in the House, Pennsylvania’s 18 member Congressional delegation fell entirely along party lines.
All 9 members of Pennsylvania’s Democratic delegation voted for both articles, while all 9 Republicans voted against it.
All members of the state’s congressional delegation made their intentions known leading up to the historic vote, but a majority of members still decided to briefly speak on the House floor explaining their decision to either vote for or against impeachment.
A common theme for Democrats was to describe the actions against Trump as serious and inexcusable, while Republicans often described the process as a “sham” and said it was being done because they believe that they cannot defeat the president at the ballot box.
“This is the fourth impeachment proceeding against an American president and the most serious,” Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) said, who was the first Pennsylvania lawmaker to speak on the House floor today.
Boyle went on to describe Trump’s actions with Ukraine as “threatening national security” and saying the evidence is “undisputed.”
Only two other Democrats from the state, Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware), both members on the House Judiciary Committee, spoke on the House floor today explaining the importance of their “yes” vote.
“It’s with profound sadness that I stand here today in support of these articles of impeachment,” Scanlon said. “President Trump’s behavior is exactly what our founders feared most.”
Scanlon went on to share her disagreement with her Republican colleagues that have said the impeachment process is due to their policy disagreements, but because she viewed his actions with Ukraine as impeachable.
“By our vote today, we are speaking to future presidents and to future generations,” Dean said. “We are declaring that we will not tolerate foreign interference in our presidential elections. Americans alone with determine the outcome.”
Dean also said in her 2 minute speech on Wednesday that “words matter” and questioned if it is ever “right for the president to withhold congressionally-appropriated aid” to a country.
Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna), Michael Doyle (D-Allegheny), Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester), Conor Lamb (D-Allegheny), and Susan Wild (D-Lehigh) issued statements prior to the vote that signaled their support for both articles of impeachment.
While only three Democrats in the state’s Congressional delegation decided to speak on the House floor today about impeachment, a majority of the GOP delegation took the opportunity to explain their “no” vote and defend Trump in the process.
“Since before Inauguration, the press and members of this Congress have been for impeachment,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-York) said. “Members refused to attend the Inauguration. They called for impeachment, they voted for impeachment.”
Perry went on to say that President James Madison and Alexander Hamilton “warned” against the process and described the vote as “bitterly and nakedly partisan” adding that Democrats “despise the President.”
Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) also said that Democrats were trying to remove Trump from office from day 1 and said that the president was elected because the country wanted a “disruptor, a fighter, a dealmaker… a president that would put America first.”
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny), the lone Republican from the state on the House Judiciary Committee, described the charges as a “political hitjob” and pointed to his background in the military saying he would instead make the case of abuse of power against Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and obstruction of justice against House Democrats.
“You know I’ve been on all sides of the courtroom, I was a prosecutor in the Navy, I was a defense attorney in the Navy, I was a district judge in my hometown,” Reschenthaler said. “As a lawyer, I would defend this case every day of the week. As a judge, I would dismiss this day one for lack of merit.”
He also echoed the sentiment of many Republicans by saying he believes this was being done because he believes that Democrats cannot beat Trump in 2020.
Perhaps the Pennsylvanian who drew the most attention during the House speech today was Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler).
He likened the day of impeachment to Pearl Harbor, as a “date that will live in infamy.”
“On December 7, 1941, a horrific act happened in the United States and it’s one that President Roosevelt said this is a date that would live in infamy,” Kelly said. “Today, December 18, 2019 is another date that will live in infamy.”
Other Republicans that spoke on the House floor on Wednesday explaining their “no” vote were Reps. John Joyce (R-Blair), Fred Keller (R-Snyder), Dan Meuser (R-Luzerne), and G.T. Thompson (R-Centre). Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) voted “no” on both articles, but was the lone Republican in the state that didn’t speak on the House floor about his vote.