After a chaotic 2019, freshman House Reps. are ready to legislate in 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. - After a whirlwind 2019 that began with the longest government shutdown in U.S. history and ended with the impeachment of President Donald Trump, freshman lawmakers are returning to Washington in 2020 ready to accomplish the legislative agenda they started with one year ago.
Hawaii Rep. Ed Case (D) was not like some of his fellow freshman Democrats who campaigned on impeaching Trump. In fact, he didn’t think he would even have to.
“I never wanted to come into an environment where impeachment was on the table,” said Case, whose district covers the city of Honolulu.
But that was the reality for first-year members on both sides of the aisle, thrown into a historic and often chaotic 2019.
Pennsylvania Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R), a former officer in the United States JAG Corp., found himself in the fray not once, but twice. The first time was last summer during the Mueller hearings. Most recently during the impeachment proceedings as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
“I could have never anticipated this,” said Reschenthaler, whose district covers suburban Pittsburgh. “I’m a little disturbed because there is a lot of other work we could be doing. But it is a historic time to be here and I’m very thankful for the opportunity to get to participate.”
Some freshmen like Pennsylvania Rep. Fred Keller were thrown into the thick of things later than everyone else. The Republican came to Congress in June after winning a special election to replace former Rep. Tom Marino, who abruptly resigned early last year. With the impeachment hearings complete in the House, Keller is hoping 2020 will give him more time to work on his legislative goals.
“When you look at the opportunity with agriculture, energy, manufacturing,” Keller said. “I want to be able to bring that message down here to make sure the American Dream stays alive and well.”
Keller will need the Democratic majority in the House to get that done, something Case knows as well. Case served in the U.S. House from 2002-2007 before returning again in 2019. The partisan divide wasn’t as bad then, he said. But impeachment has made things worse now.
So, as we start the new year in Washington, he’s hoping old can become new again.
“I’m looking forward to completing everything I planned on completing this first year,” Case said.