Two House Republicans miss swearing in but still vote
January 6th, 2011
08:15 PM ET
12 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. Mark

    They need to be reprimanded or removed. Seriously? Their first damn day and it's already "We're wonderful! We don't have to follow the rules!" Holding a stupid "reception" for some rich friends, pardon me "constituents", on their first day in the capital campus isn't part of their job.

    January 7, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  2. Mike from Boise

    How long has Sessions been in office? Rules are for everyone else right Mr. Representative?

    January 7, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. GOP wake-up please

    I'm surprised and very disappointed the two congressman hadn't taken their oath. After the big statement made by the american voters this past November, one would think the elected congressman would have gotten the messsge. WAKE UP! Take this responsibility seriously, we are depending on you. If not, GOD help on the next election – I won't.

    January 7, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. James A.

    Wow! What a caviler attitude! These two, brand new Republicans didn’t think it was even important to attend their own swearing-in ceremony with their own colleagues – unbelievable! This shows how much humility and regard some of these guys have for the opportunity to “serve the people” – what a joke.
    America – don’t ever do this again please!

    January 7, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  5. Steve K.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but, these guys are supposed to be working for us ,right....??? I propose they all be made to take a 50% pay cut to begin with to help balance the budget.....take away ALL the 'PERKS' until they get their collective heads out of the clouds or where ever it is they have them planted. To me it seems they think this is a monarchy and they should all be treated like royalty instead of actually doing the job they were elected to do. While were at it, that power they have to vote themselves a raise every time they feel like it should have been yanked along with the free health care and anything else they don't deserve. Grow up or go home and get some people in office that actually intend to work for us and what they get....!!!

    January 7, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  6. Steve

    Good old fashioned Republican attention to detail. Just imagine the hellstorm had these been two Democrats. But since they're GOPers, it's just a silly misunderstaning, hyuk.

    January 7, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  7. Sam

    This is so typical. I guess we just make up the rules as we go along to fit our needs. It makes me wonder if they really take their roles in government seriously.

    January 7, 2011 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  8. HCX

    Uh. I have so much confidence now that this has been corrected.

    January 7, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. Mountaineer

    So much for the CONSTITUTION and abiding by it. Fundraising is more important to Republicans than voting I guess.

    January 7, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  10. John B. From NH

    voting on legislation without having been sworn in is a federal offense. Just sayin. Funny how things look different when the shoe's on the other foot eh reps??

    January 7, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. informed voter

    Amazing, breaking the rules even before they're sworn in.

    January 7, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  12. Seriously?

    Nothing surprising here. Government business taking a back seat with the Republicans . . . Aren't you idiots who voted these folks back in to control proud of yourselves? If you think this is bad, just wait. It is only going to get worse.

    January 7, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. Robert

    Let us the Party of Power READ the Constitution. Let us the Party Re-elected, who should ALREADY Know the rules, makes them up as we go. If being sworn-in for your job is not that important to you, then just go home.

    If I were elected to office, no matter what it was, I would be at my swearing in, come Hell or High water, not off shaking hands and asking for money, ALREADY.

    January 7, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Name king

    Hey the repugs are like some spoiled brats, they want to get their own way then get mad as some spoiled milk somebody get to do what they're doing, the epitome of hyprocracy.

    January 7, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. rock

    Those darn republicans....

    January 7, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6