Upstate New York Republicans in Congress are split over whether President Trump should be impeached or censured in the coming days as the new Biden administration prepares to take office.
The disparate views from lawmakers like Rep. Elise Stefanik, a staunch supporter of the president; Rep. John Katko, who backs impeachment; and Rep. Tom Reed, who is seeking to chart a middle path; reflect the uncertain path ahead for Republicans a week after a mob of the president's supporters stormed the Capitol building.
The newest GOP member of the delegation, Rep. Chris Jacobs, also opposed the president's removal in the Tuesday night vote to invoke the 25th amendment.
Their views are in many ways reflective of their congressional districts across upstate New York. Some, like Stefanik, represent deep red districts that supported the president's re-election. Others, like Katko, represent a district the Democratic presidential nominee for president has carried for the last decade.
Democrats and Republicans alike blame Trump's rhetoric for inciting the riot, as Congress was in the middle of the pro forma vote to certify the election for President-elect Joe Biden.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday evening backed a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to begin the process of invoking the 25th Amendment and removing Trump from office a week before Biden is sworn in as president. Pence rejected that call.
Stefanik voted against the resolution, calling for unity instead. Stefanik was among the Republicans who voted to challenge some electors in the presidential election.
“We must work together to unify at this challenging time for the American people," she said. "This political resolution sets a very dangerous Constitutional precedent and further divides our country. I believe we should focus on ensuring a safe transfer of power on January 20."
Jacobs, like Stefanik in the North Country, represents a pro-Trump House district in western New York.
“The Constitution entrusts the Vice President and the Cabinet with the authority to invoke the 25th Amendment, and it is only intended to be used when a President is incapacitated – not as means of punishment," he said.
"Congress has no place in this process and the Vice President’s decision not to invoke the 25th Amendment makes tonight’s vote no more than political posturing from Speaker Pelosi. At a time when our nation cannot bear more division, the Speaker should pull consideration of this resolution from the floor and instead work with us to heal the country."
Reed, the co-leader of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, has cautioned against impeachment. Instead, he's seeking a censure, which has been rejected by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He has also opened the door supporting a measure that would bar Trump from holding federal future office.
Reed introduced his censure resolution on Tuesday, saying the 25th Amendment route is unlikely to succeed and, for the moment, the Senate unlikely to convict the president in an impeachment trial.
“This is an important step to hold the President accountable. Congress must make clear that it rejects extremism and condemns the President’s actions,” Reed said.
“We will continue to push for Congressional leaders to work with us on investigating the events surrounding this dark period in our history and make sure it never happens again with the public’s trust in our democratic institutions restored.”
Katko, a Republican who has held on to a closely watched swing district in Central New York, had in the past been discomfitted with the president and his rhetoric. He is now among the five Republicans in Congress backing impeachment.
“The divide in our country is more clear than ever before," Katko said. "I hear my Republican colleagues in their argument that impeachment only further divides our country at a time when we must move forward. I agree. There must be a continuance of government and a peaceful transition of power. But I also believe firmly that I must follow the law and the facts and hold this president accountable for his actions."