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.
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.
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"I Didn't Plan to Run for Office"
State Senate as Preparation
Learning the District
On the Women's Caucus
"Watching the Television" on September 11th
On the Judiciary Committee After September 11, 2001
Running for Vice Chair of the Republican Conference
Getting a Seat on the Ways and Means Committee
Working on Ways and Means
Staging a Bill Signing
"Don't Vote for Me Because I'm A Woman"
Baseball and the Congressional Community
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