The Honorable Melissa A. Hart

After serving for a decade in the state senate, Melissa A. Hart made history as the first Republican woman elected to Congress from Pennsylvania. A member of the Judiciary and Ways and Means Committees, Hart worked on the legislative response to the September 11th terrorist attacks and sought to bring economic development to her southwestern Pennsylvania district.

Featured Video

Learning the District

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart discusses her thoughts on understanding the needs of her House district.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

Abstract & Transcript

U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania (January 3, 2001-January 3, 2007)

Melissa A. Hart did not initially aspire to public service, but an upbringing rooted in civic activism set the stage for her political career at the state and federal level. In this interview Hart explains how the encouragement she received from several colleagues and mentors helped convince her to campaign for a seat in the Pennsylvania state senate at the age of 27. Considered a “sacrificial lamb” as a young woman running against an incumbent, Hart won her first election and went on to serve in the state legislature for ten years. She recalls how her time in the senate, as well as a law background which included experience drafting legislation, prepared her for the jump to Congress.

Hart describes the national attention her congressional race received in 2000 and how she campaigned and raised money under the public spotlight in a majority-Democratic district. Once in the House, Hart served on the Judiciary Committee. She discusses how the committee’s work drastically changed after September 11, 2001, and recalls the day of the attacks, including gathering with colleagues on the Capitol steps later that evening. From her first days as a Representative, Hart waged a campaign for a spot on the influential Ways and Means Committee. She explains how she won a seat on Ways and Means during her final House term and provides a behind-the-scenes look at the committee. An active member of the Republican Conference during her House tenure, Hart talks about the benefits of her unsuccessful attempt to serve in the leadership. She also discusses the relationships and alliances she built in her six years on the Hill through committee work, the Congresswomen’s Caucus, the Pennsylvania delegation, and as a participant in the Congressional Baseball Game. In 2006, Hart failed to win re-election to a fourth term. She reflects on that pivotal campaign as well as her attempt to win back her House seat in 2008.

Biography

HART, MELISSA A., a Representative from Pennsylvania; born in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA, April 4, 1962; graduated from North Allegheny High School, North Allegheny, PA; BA, Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, Pa., 1984; JD, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa., 1987; lawyer, private practice; member of the Pennsylvania state senate, 1991–2000; elected as a Republican to the One Hundred Seventh and to the two succeeding Congresses (January 3, 2001–January 3, 2007); unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the One Hundred Tenth Congress in 2006 and the One Hundred Eleventh Congress in 2008.

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Video

"I Didn't Plan to Run for Office"

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart explains how she came to run for public office.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

State Senate as Preparation

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart describes how her time in the Pennsylvania state legislature prepared her for Congress.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

Learning the District

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart discusses her thoughts on understanding the needs of her House district.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

On the Women's Caucus

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart offers her impressions of the Congresswomen's Caucus.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

"Watching the Television" on September 11th

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart shares her experience at the Capitol on September 11, 2001.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

On the Judiciary Committee After September 11, 2001

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart explains how her work on the Judiciary Committee dramatically changed after the attacks on September 11, 2001.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

Running for Vice Chair of the Republican Conference

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart explains why she wanted to run for a leadership position in the Republican Conference and the practical benefits of her unsuccessful campaign.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

Getting a Seat on the Ways and Means Committee

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart recalls how she won support for a seat on the influential Ways and Means Committee.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

Working on Ways and Means

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart provides a behind-the-scenes description of her time on the Ways and Means Committee.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

Staging a Bill Signing

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart shares her thoughts about the inclusiveness in the political process.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

"Don't Vote for Me Because I'm A Woman"

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart talks about the importance of women relying on professional qualifications when running for public office.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

Baseball and the Congressional Community

The Honorable Melissa A. Hart provides insight on the relationships formed between Members who participated in the annual Congressional Baseball game.
The Honorable Melissa A. Hart, U.S. Representative of Pennsylvania
Interview recorded September 30, 2019 Deed of Gift

Images & Artifacts

Representative Melissa Hart
<i>Representative Melissa Hart</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_hart_portrait.xml
Representative Hart served in the Pennsylvania state senate for a decade before her election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Swearing In
<i>Swearing In</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_hart_swearingin.xml
Representative Hart posed for a ceremonial swearing-in photo at the start of her first term in 2001.
Image courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives Photography Office
Women House Members
<i>Women House Members</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_hart_wic.xml
Representative Hart, middle of the back row, posed with some of her female House colleagues in January 2001.
Image courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives Photography Office
Congressional Delegation to South America
<i>Congressional Delegation to South America</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_hart_codel.xml
Representative Hart joined her colleagues on a congressional delegation to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile in January 2004. Here, the group is pictured in the capital of Uruguay.
Image courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives Photography Office
Melissa A. Hart Lapel Pin
<i>Melissa A. Hart Lapel Pin</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_hart_button.xml
Representative Hart used this campaign button in one of her re-election campaigns in the early 2000s.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Melissa A. Hart Baseball Card 
<i>Melissa A. Hart Baseball Card </i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_hart_baseball.xml
Representative Hart and her Republican teammates won the Congressional Baseball Game in 2006.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Representative Armey's Portrait
<i>Representative Armey's Portrait</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_hart_armey.xml
Representative Hart congratulated former Majority Leader Dick Armey on his Leadership portrait at the unveiling in 2004.
Image courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives Photography Office
College 529 InvEST Act
<i>College 529 InvEST Act</i>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_hart_college.xml
From her seat on Ways and Means, Hart introduced a bill (H.R. 2386) with her colleagues in 2005 that aimed to keep college savings accounts tax free.
Image courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives Photography Office