Behrend grad Reschenthaler reflects on early time in Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nearly one-half of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation (eight out of 18 members) consists of freshman members. That includes Congressman Fred Keller.
With a hand on his grandmother’s Bible, U.S. Rep. Fred Keller took the oath of office in June, not January like other members. That forced him to quickly learn how Washington works when he took over for former Congressman Tom Marino representing Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District.
“I was in the lumber industry, and I traveled quite a bit of the 12th Congressional District when I bought lumber,” said Keller, a Republican. “So, it’s been really great getting reacquainted with the parts of the 12th Congressional District that I did business in.”
Keller is a former Pennsylvania State Representative, serving the Selinsgrove and Lewisburg areas for four terms before heading to Congress this summer. Even in that short amount of time, he’s noticed the partisan divisions run much deeper than in Harrisburg.
“If we’re not listening and hearing what’s on people’s minds, we don’t have a chance of getting it right,” Keller said.
“It’s different than the State Senate,” said U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, another freshman lawmaker who represents Pennsylvania’s 14thCongressional District. “It’s much more partisan here, which is a shame.”
Reschenthaler has noticed some of the same learning curves, both politically and professionally. A Republican whose 14th District covers Southwestern Pennsylvania, the 36-year-old former State Senator and U.S. Navy JAG Corps officer, has already been a part of history. He went one-on-one with Special Counsel Robert Mueller during last month’s Congressional hearing.
“The Mueller questioning was very surreal,” Reschenthaler said. “To be part of what I consider history was an amazing experience.”
Reschenthaler has connections to Erie, as well. He graduated from Penn State Behrend in 2004 with a political science degree.
While members are still learning the nuances of Congress, such as getting around and learning the mazes between one Congressional building to another. They have learned not all jobs in politics are alike.
“The terminology is different here than it was in the State Senate,” Reschenthaler said. “But you just pick that up naturally as you go.”
“People say, ‘Fred, how do you get all of this done?’ The same way that everyone who goes to work every day gets it done,” Keller said. “We put our head down, go to work, and listen to what’s happening around the district.”
Coming up Wednesday, we’ll hear from one of the four freshman Congresswomen elected in Pennsylvania in 2018, and what it means to her to be a part of that historic class.