WASHINGTON - Two of Berks County's three representatives in Congress -- both Democrats -- voted Wednesday to impeach President Trump for a second time. The third -- a Republican -- voted against impeachment.
The managers will be tasked with prosecuting President Trump in a Senate trial if the House impeaches him on a charge of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat who represents parts of Berks and Montgomery counties, delivered the following speech on the House floor prior to casting her vote to impeach the president:
"Madam Speaker, one week ago today, I was trapped in this House chamber as the banging on the doors began. I feared for colleagues, reporters, and staff. I feared for myself. The attack on the Capitol will never be forgotten.
"The president and many in this chamber have shamelessly peddled dangerous untruths about the election, despite the warnings of where those lies would lead, and last Wednesday, those lies and dangers found themselves inside this Capitol.
"This rhetoric is another deadly virus. It is time to remove it from its host. To heal, we need accountability and truth. That begins by acknowledging the president's dangerous lies and their deadly consequences. Removing Donald Trump is the beginning of restoring decency and democracy.
"What happened last week will not be forgotten, and what we do this week will long be remembered. Vote yes on impeachment."
U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat who represents Reading, southeastern Berks County, and all of Chester County, released the following statement after casting her vote:
"A domestic terrorist attack occurred on American soil against our country's very Capital. This attack was incited by the President of the United States; his actions are a clear and present threat not only to our Democratic Republic but also to our national security.
"The President has abdicated his responsibility to safeguard this nation. In accordance with my oath of office to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic, I voted today to impeach the President.
"I do not take this vote lightly. There is such division in this country, and I believe that we must do everything in our power as elected leaders to heal this nation. I am committed to that healing process.
"But I am simultaneously bound by the Constitution, something I have sworn to protect and defend as a member of Congress and an officer in the U.S. Air Force. That oath, that commitment to community and country, must be upheld by all leaders in order for this great experiment that is the United States to continue."
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, a Republican who represents all or parts of of Berks, Carbon, Columbia, Lebanon, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland, and Schuylkill counties, had this to say after voting against impeachment:
"The violent protests and the storming of the Capitol last week did not dissuade our responsibility as members of Congress to carry out our constitutional role in certifying the results of this past presidential election. I commend Vice President Mike Pence for his leadership in carrying out his oath of office and putting his country first. Yesterday, the Vice President stated, 'I will not now yield efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation.'
"Last week's tragic events also did not sway my resolve to highlight the highly irregular actions taken by state officials in Pennsylvania during the last election. The Constitution very clearly states that 'The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections... shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof...' In multiple instances, state officials acted outside their authority, usurping the constitutional authority of the Pennsylvania state legislature.
"It must be understood that there was mathematically no chance that my objection to the Pennsylvania electors would overturn the results of the election. I have stated that consistently to anyone who asked for the last several weeks. It is also important to note that my focus was never centered on unproven claims of fraud. This is why I did not object to the certification of Arizona electors.
"As an elected official, I have a responsibility to be the people's voice in Washington. There are many, many across the commonwealth who do indeed feel disenfranchised. The electoral certification process was the appropriate venue to address these concerns. Speaker Pelosi in 2005, when 31 Democrats objected to the electoral certification for Ohio, professed, 'The Members of Congress who have brought this challenge are speaking up for their aggrieved constituents, many of whom have been disenfranchised in this process.' These words from Speaker Nancy Pelosi were appropriate then as they are now.
"My questioning of the Pennsylvania electors will help illuminate this constitutional question to the United States Supreme Court. It is my understanding the U.S. Supreme Court will consider and rule on whether the actions taken in Pennsylvania, without the authority of the state legislature, were unconstitutional. In the end, I believe we will be vindicated by the Court in affirming that only state legislatures make election law and procedure. The Court's ruling will be prospective, not retroactive, and will bring consistency and integrity to our system of elections. This will be to the benefit of Democrats and Republicans and build widespread trust in our election process.
"As Vice President Pence has said, 'in the midst of a global pandemic, economic hardship for millions of Americans, and the tragic events of January 6th, now is the time for us to come together, now is the time to heal.' It is very important now to avoid actions that would further divide our people. An impeachment proceeding would only bolster such division. President-elect Biden recently suggested that our goal should be to move forward as a nation and that the most effective means to accomplish this is to focus on a smooth transition come January 20th. I have received an invitation to attend the inauguration of President-elect Biden and I will be attending."