(*This story has been updated to correctly reflect U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District’s, support for an impeachment inquiry).
WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania’s four Democratic freshmen (or, perhaps, freshwomen) swept into the U.S. House on the same blue wave in 2018.
U.S. Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon, Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan and Susan Wild are not in lockstep on everything. But they’re friends and allies who have a lot in common.
And as of last week, they’re all backing an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Scanlon, D-5th District, and Dean, D-4th District, were the first of the group to publicly call for an impeachment inquiry. They both did so back on May 21, the same day that former White House counsel Don McGahn refused to testify after he was subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee.
Both Scanlon and Dean sit on that committee.
“The president’s refusal to produce evidence or permit witness testimony defies not only the rule of law but the basic protections of our Constitution,” Scanlon, of Delaware County, said in a statement at the time.
“No one is above the rule of law. The time has come to start an impeachment inquiry because the American people deserve to know the truth and to have the opportunity to judge the gravity of the evidence and charges leveled against the President.”
Dean, of Montgomery County, said then that Trump’s “outrageous disregard for the law — his cruel and constant corruption — cannot go unanswered. It will not go unanswered. The American people deserve the truth on the President’s ongoing obstruction of justice, corruption, and abuses of power. It is the right time for the committee to launch a formal impeachment inquiry — in parallel with ongoing oversight — to give that to them.”
This week — four months after Scanlon and Dean’s initial calls to action — the politics of impeachment shifted dramatically.
As reports surfaced that Trump had pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival and his family, a deluge of lawmakers that had resisted their colleagues’ push for an impeachment inquiry said the president’s actions couldn’t go unanswered by Congress.
Houlahan, D-6th District, joined six other freshman Democrats with national security backgrounds in penning an op-ed Monday saying of Trump’s actions, “This flagrant disregard for the law cannot stand.”
If true, the lawmakers called the actions “an impeachable offense.”
On Tuesday, just before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced a formal impeachment investigation, Wild, too, joined the calls for an impeachment inquiry.
“If these allegations are true, I want to be very clear about what they mean: the President of the United States used his office—and taxpayer dollars—to coerce a foreign leader to investigate his political rival for purposes of bolstering his 2020 re-election prospects,” the 7th District lawmaker said in a statement. “That would be an unprecedented abuse of presidential power warranting the most severe and swift remedy contemplated in our Constitution: impeachment.”
Wild, of Lehigh County, told The Washington Post this week, “I was very much affected by my fellow members who are all national security types, former military, former CIA. And their deep concern, their very deep concern, over these allegations when they have consistently been rebuffing the idea of impeachment.”
Three of the Pennsylvania Democrats flipped seats that had previously been held by Republicans. Dean won a seat vacated by a Democrat.
U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District; Dwight Evans, D-3rd District; Matt Cartwright, D-8th District, and Mike Doyle, D-18th District, all support the proceedings.
*On Friday, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, said he would support the inquiry, the Associated Press reported.
As the House presses ahead with its inquiry, Dean and Scanlon will play key roles as members of the Judiciary Committee, which is the lead committee on impeachment proceedings.
And although even many Democrats who support an impeachment inquiry expect that the GOP-led Senate would refuse to oust Trump from the White House, Dean said she doesn’t see that as inevitable.
“I have never been a believer that it’s a foregone conclusion that it will die in the Senate, and that was before the Ukraine revelations,” Dean told the Capital-Star on Thursday. “I’m an optimist and I’m an American and a patriot and I hope that as these incredibly damning behaviors by this administration come to light and are proved, that senators of both parties will see the light.”