Two House Republicans miss swearing in but still vote
January 6th, 2011
08:15 PM ET
7 years ago

Two House Republicans miss swearing in but still vote

Washington (CNN) - They voted, and they participated in the Republican-mandated reading of the Constitution on the House floor.

But two Republicans missed their official swearing in on the House floor on Wednesday and weren't officially members of Congress as the chamber began its first full day of official business on Thursday.

The new Republican House majority was a little red-faced to learn that Reps. Pete Sessions of Texas and Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania were attending a reception for Fitzpatrick's constituents in a room on the Capitol campus - and took the oath of office while watching the floor proceedings on television.

Fitzpatrick's local newspaper, the Bucks Country Courier-Times, recounted the unofficial oath of office.

"Wednesday, a sea of about 500 supporters overwhelmed a large room in the Capitol and caught a break when the Bucks County native took the oath of office in front of them rather than on the House floor," the paper wrote. "'That wasn't planned. It just worked out that way,'" said Fitzpatrick, who happened to be introducing Texas Congressman Pete Sessions while glad-handing his supporters in the Capitol Visitor Center that he secured for them when the House swearing in began."

The Constitution says only that members of Congress must be sworn in and only members can vote, but House rules call for the oath of office to be administered on the floor of the chamber.

Both Sessions and Fitzpatrick were administered the oath on Thursday, but not before Sessions' lack of standing caused a stir when the Rules Committee convened to begin its official work on the health care reform repeal bill.

When Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David Dreier realized Sessions hadn't been sworn in, he was forced to recess the committee so Democrats and Republicans could figure out how to move forward.

Sessions is a top House GOP leader, and, as chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2010 midterms, worked to sweep the GOP into the majority. He was elected by his colleagues to retain that role for the 2012 election.

GOP aides said that staffs from the Rules Committee and the speaker's office are talking now about how to correct the official Congressional record.

"Public records and votes will be adjusted accordingly," Sessions spokeswoman Emily Davis said.

Fitzpatrick's spokesman, Darren Smith, said the Pennsylvania Republican signed a written version of the oath of office before the reception. But Smith added, "Today, after speaking with the House Parliamentarian, out of an abundance of caution, Congressman Fitzpatrick was re-administered the oath of office by the speaker. The public record will be adjusted accordingly."

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. carrotroot

    The Republicans had the Constitution read on the floor of the House and these two clowns didn't even bother to show up for the swearing in - because they were at fund raisers.

    January 6, 2011 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The job killing republican party is bringing back their renowned culture of corruption.

    January 6, 2011 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  3. Kevin

    So the great self-proclaimed upholders of the Constitution know too little about it to be present for their own oaths of office? It "wasn't planned," Congressman Fitzpatrick? Did you not know the day upon which you were to be sworn in as a representative of the UNITED STATES CONGRESS? Most folks would have that bulleted on their "to do" lists, sir. Then again, most folks wouldn't be panhandling for more cash at the exact moment they were supposed to be vocalizing their commitment to defend the Constitution and serve their constituents.

    January 6, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  4. Gil

    I hope the repulsive republicans stopped to read over twice the part about any person born in America becomes an American citizen by birth! I'm sure they are too stupid to have even noted that fact!

    January 6, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  5. rashinal

    if this doesn't speak volumes, I don't know what does.

    January 6, 2011 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The constitution is quite clear, you must be sworn in or you are not congressman. Another example that the job killing republicans have always been above rules and do not have to follow the constitution.

    January 6, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Many republicans bailed out of the reading of the constitution.

    January 6, 2011 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  8. Rick

    See, the fun has already started.

    January 6, 2011 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  9. ChimChim

    Super job guys! Way to show your commitment to the job.

    January 6, 2011 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  10. Jennifer B

    Is this not important to the republicans?

    January 6, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  11. Former Republican - Now Independent

    Boehner is getting off to a really rocky start. I thought he was going to run a tight ship.

    Pelosi and Hastert are stating to look better and better ... and its only been two days!

    January 6, 2011 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  12. Chooch

    Not at all surprising to me. They are after all republicans.

    January 6, 2011 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  13. Chooch

    If this had been 2 democrats, it would be a major uprising from the republican party ccalling for a Congressional investigation and subsequent execution of the 2 offenders.

    January 6, 2011 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  14. Oy Vey Az

    Hey ... Who's running the show ? ... Mr. Bluster or Howdy?

    January 6, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  15. Chipster

    GOP/Tea Partiers are already backing away from promises to cut spending and never did tell anyone how or where they would make cuts. They're also determined to waste time & money on bogus investigations and trying to repeal health care reform when they know it will be votoed. I'm glad they at least read the Constitution and hope they do it often. Perhaps they will get it through their thick skulls that government is prohibited from promoting religion. The same people who think forcing people to pay for health coverage is unconstitutional, even though taxpayers are forced to pay for emergency care if they don't have it, think that taxpayers should be forced to pay for vouchers for parochial schools!

    January 6, 2011 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  16. Jim

    It looks like Mr. Fitzpatrick sees his new position as a time to party instead of getting down to work. Somethings in Washington will never change. Respect and dignity are quickly disappearing in Washington.

    January 6, 2011 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  17. TM

    Republicans can't even go ONE DAY without violating the Constitution and BREAKING THE LAW!

    January 6, 2011 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  18. gate

    I guess they should have been listening when they were reading the Constitution aloud. In their defense, it is probably the first time any of them had read the Constitution.

    January 6, 2011 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  19. nintex

    They're not off to a real good start, are they? The first few days of the new republican majority in Congress haven't impressed me at all. I don't have a very good feeling about the next couple of years, and can only pray that the American people will come to their senses and put Democrats back in charge in 2012.

    January 6, 2011 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  20. tigerakabj

    No surprise. They didn't have any regard for the Constitution when they were in power during the Bush years. Furthermore, Fitzpatrick was fundraising inside the Capitol, which is illegal.

    So Mr. Issa, are you going to investigate an actual crime?

    January 6, 2011 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  21. olorinstaff

    Welcome to your new Republican congress. Why be sworn in when you can be taking money and making promises to your 'constituants'

    January 6, 2011 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  22. SA in OO

    The issue here is procedural and in the long run not worth the press it is getting. As "gotchas" go this one is of no consequence.

    Do the reading public (if there are still readers left) a great favor and cover real issues. For instance you could spend some time telling people what is really at stake in the rush to repeal healthcare without discussion.

    The problem isn't that the "ignorant masses" are not a solid voting block, it is that the media panders to their greater fascination with political theater, than the serious issues we are faced with.

    January 6, 2011 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  23. once upon a horse

    Sessions from down here in the great red state of Texas has proven he isn't the brightest bulb in the lamp....but then again you look at what else comes out of this state politcally on BOTH sides and he fits right in.

    January 6, 2011 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  24. laughoutloud

    Leave it to the republicans. America is truly in the crapper

    January 6, 2011 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  25. thetruthp

    well for a party that all about rules, it sure didn't take long for some of them to show their true colors.

    January 6, 2011 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
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