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Rep. Reed makes passionate speech across the House aisle, but doesn't support impeachment

Congressman stood with Democrats during vote to certify election results

Chris Potter
The Evening Tribune

WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Reed stepped to the Democratic side of the aisle late Wednesday night to vote in favor of certifying Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump, but the Republican stopped short Thursday of supporting calls to remove Trump from office. 

Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, urged Vice President Mike Pence and Trump's Cabinet to immediately remove the president from office under the 25th Amendment. Barring that historic move, the New York senator said Congress should reconvene to impeach the president before his term runs out Jan. 20. 

Reed, a Republican from Corning who represents much of the Southern Tier of New York, struck a different tone. 

Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) stood on the Democratic side of the aisle Wednesday night to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“There’s millions of Americans out there that are filled with this anger, filled with this fear, and I caution my colleagues that maybe looking for that immediate headline or that instant type of response because they want to do something about this issue — we did something last night,” Reed said in Thursday press conference. “We completed the democratic process when it was under attack by mob rule. We are going to complete the transition of power and come Jan. 20 we will have a new president, and it will now be done and completed in a peaceful way.” 

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed

Reed wasn’t in the Capitol building when rioters broke through police barricades and poured inside as members of the House and Senate met to certify the election. He had just left the floor and watched the scene unfold on television from his office in the Longworth House Office Building, which was locked down by police. Reed called it “one of the most disheartening moments of my entire life.” 

When the House reconvened Wednesday night, Reed followed through on his intent to vote for certification of the election results. He delivered a passionate two-minute speech from the Democratic side of the aisle “as a proud Republican, but most importantly as a proud American.” 

Who voted against certification?:Why these GOP lawmakers did even after Capitol riot

“What I saw today was mob rule that spat upon the blood of my father that is in the soil of Europe and in the soil of Korea, who gave us through that blood this sacred Constitution, and this sacred ability to lead this world as a power that says we settle our differences not with mob rule, we settle our differences with elections,” Reed said to applause from his colleagues in the chamber. 

While pledging to fight for Republican ideals, Reed stood with Democrats on this night “to send a message to the nation and all Americans that what we saw today was not American, and what we see tonight in this body shall be what we do in America, and that is to transfer power in a peaceful way.” 

Reed yielded the remainder of his time to the New Jersey Democrat standing beside him, Josh Gottheimer, his “best friend in Congress” with whom he co-chairs the Problem Solvers Caucus. 

Reflecting Thursday, Reed said he wanted the symbolism to add power to his words. Returning to the House floor hours after it had been overrun by rioters “reinvigorated” his zest for American democracy and his resolve to stand against lawlessness.  

Reed was further encouraged by a statement from President Trump on Thursday morning that “there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.” 

“I think we need to move forward. People will judge the president. History will judge the president and his legacy,” Reed said. “I’m just an individual, just another American citizen. I was very concerned with the rhetoric I saw on the mall (Wednesday). I will continue to ask the president to commit to what he did today in regards to supporting the orderly transition of power. I hope that is where we go in the next 13 days and I’m confident we’re going to do that.” 

A fellow Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, on Thursday called for Trump’s removal under the 25th Amendment. Reed didn't support such an effort, but he did have some criticism for fellow Republicans playing politics with voter confidence in the electoral process. 

“Prior to the vote yesterday I had conversations with members of the House and senators where I know, they looked me in the eye and they indicated to me they were purely doing this out of political motivations. That is wrong to me. We need to stop that,” Reed said. “I will continue to call that out as we go forward. 

“As these folks continue to play those political games, I think the American people are going to say enough is enough. They’re the ones that control who their elected officials are. I go back to my fundamental belief, it’s the wisdom of the American people that will see us through this.”