(This story has been updated with the correct name for the representative from Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district in Pennsylvania.)
They each had seconds to add their thoughts to the history books.
The daylong march toward President Donald Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives on Wednesday included hours of debate. The House agreed to three hours each for Democrats and Republicans, though in the end, the parade of statements by lawmakers stretched on much longer. The speeches alternated between members of the two parties, whose leaders parceled it out to individuals. Most were allotted either a minute or 90 seconds to make their arguments.
Most of the members representing Pennsylvania and South Jersey voted along party lines, with Republicans opposing impeachment and Democrats supporting it. The exception was New Jersey Democrat Jeff Van Drew, whose opposition to impeachment had so alienated his party that he plans to defect to the GOP.
A popular refrain among Republicans was that Democrats had been eager to impeach Trump as soon as he was elected and that the evidence against him was weak. Democrats cast the vote as necessary to safeguard the Constitution.
Some House members did not take the opportunity to speak, including Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Bucks County Republican who voted no on both articles of impeachment.
Here’s what area representatives did with their time:
Scanlon, a Democrat who represents Delaware County, was the first of Pennsylvania’s lawmakers to address the body.
“It is with profound sadness that I stand here today,” Scanlon said.
“A government where the president abuses his power is not of the people. A government where the president pressures a foreign country to undermine our election is not by the people. A government where the president puts his own interests before the country is not for the people. This isn’t complicated.”
The Philadelphia Democrat, elected in 2014, spoke on the floor of the House shortly after 11 a.m.
“The matter before us, ultimately, is not a question of fact, for the evidence is undisputed. Nor is it a question of law, as the Constitution is clear," Boyle said. "The heart of the matter is this: Will members of this House have the courage to choose fidelity to the Constitution over loyalty to their political party?” He urged representatives to “summon the courage to uphold the rule of law and vote yes.”
Dean, a Democrat and grandmother of two, noted the historic moment.
“By our vote today we are speaking to future presidents and to future generations," she said. "We are declaring that we will not tolerate foreign interference in our presidential elections. ... And in the end regardless of the outcome of this impeachment, the president’s tenure will end and this body and our grandchildren will be left with what we did here today. Ours is a somber generational duty about love of country and lifting a Constitution to its gravest protections but its highest aspirations. Our democracy is a matter of conscience and by voting to safeguard our Constitution, mine is clear.”
Reschenthaler, a Republican, represents Pennsylvania’s 14th District near Pittsburgh, in the southwestern part of the state. A lawyer and Navy veteran elected in 2018, Reschenthaler spoke about 2:20 p.m., calling the impeachment process a “political hit job.”
“You know in the Navy we had a saying, ‘bluff.’ Bottom line up front. Democrats are terrified that President Trump is going to win reelection,” he said. “They can’t beat him on the merits, so the Democrats are caving to the far-left radical base and they’re using the thoughts and the feelings and the assumptions of some unnamed bureaucrats rather than relying on facts and law to impeach a duly elected president.”
Reschenthaler said that as a former district judge in his hometown, he would have thrown the case out immediately.
“I’ll tell you who I’d prosecute, though," he said. "I’d prosecute [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff for abuse of power. ... I’d prosecute the Democrats for obstruction.”
Kelly railed against the House impeachment vote, comparing it to the attacks on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. “Today, December the 18th, 2019, is another date that will live in infamy,” Kelly said. “On the floor of the people’s House, we have decided that political power is far more important than principle. The voters will remember next November what you’re doing this December.”
Joyce, a dermatologist elected in 2018 to represent areas including Cumberland, Somerset, and Westmoreland Counties, called it a “dark day in the House of Representatives.”
“The people that I represent in south-central and Southwestern Pennsylvania know the truth,” he said. “The American people know the truth. This impeachment circus has never been about the facts.”
Perry, of York County, is a former member of the state House and a retired brigadier general in the Pennsylvania National Guard. He was first elected to the U.S. House in 2012.
“Madison and Hamilton warned us this might happen, that [the power of] impeachment might veer into factions,” Perry said. He called the process a “nakedly partisan” exercise motivated by Democrats’ hatred of Trump — “the reckless and irresponsible acts of the elitists in the swamp.”
Schmuker, a businessman, said Trump’s election in 2016 showed that “the country wanted a disrupter, a fighter, a deal-maker -- a president that would put America first."
"But sadly on that very same day Democrats had no plan or interest in honoring the vote of the American people. They were going to attempt from day one to delegitimize this president and ultimately remove him from office.”
Keller, a Republican, read a passage from the Bible in his critique of Democrats supporting impeachment.
"It is unclear who will judge those voting for impeachment more harshly — history or voters — so I want Democrats voting for impeachment today to know I’ll be praying for them from the Gospel of Luke: ‘And Jesus said, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’ ”
Norcross, a Camden Democrat and brother of South Jersey power broker George E. Norcross III, said he had been for the impeachment inquiry since the start and believed there was “beyond reasonable doubt that President Donald Trump is guilty in both articles of impeachment.”
“It is our solemn responsibility to honor all those who have fought and given their lives to uphold the truth,” Norcross said. “In America, no one, no one, is above the law.”
Thompson, a former therapist and nursing-home administrator, had a dark view on the House’s impeachment vote.
“This exercise has shown itself to be the ultimate manipulation of the legislative branch’s oversight powers in order to achieve political gain,” Thompson said. He cautioned his colleagues that "their votes later today will forever change this institution.”