GOP House members 'apologize' for missing oath
January 7th, 2011
08:29 PM ET
12 years ago

GOP House members 'apologize' for missing oath

(CNN) - Two members of the U.S. House were particularly remorseful Friday night after missing the crucial oath of office ceremony for the 112th Congress which took place on Wednesday. GOP Congressmen Pete Sessions of Texas and Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania wrote a letter of apology to House Speaker John Boehner to express their regret.

"Our absence on the House floor during the oath of office ceremony for the 112th Congress – while not intentional – fell short…by creating uncertainty regarding our standing in this body," they wrote in the letter. "We understand that our error allowed the integrity of this great legislative body's proceedings to be called into question. We regret that this incident adversely affected House proceedings and apologize for any individual inconvenience our actions may have caused."

Newly sworn in, Fitzpatrick told CNN Friday he "feels bad" that he and Sessions missed the official swearing-in ceremony for members of Congress on the House floor. He was attending a reception for his constituents.

"I was with a very large group of my constituents, who had travelled to the Capitol from Bucks County and the Philadelphia area to see me sworn in, and I sort of got caught up with them, and things were fluid that day, and the oath was administered when I was with my constituents," Fitzpatrick said.

Sessions was also at the reception for Fitzpatrick's constituents in the Capitol, and the two men took the oath of office while watching on television as other members did the same thing on the House floor. Fitzpatrick said that while he had already signed and filed a written oath, that, "upon further reflection and out of an abundance of caution went to see the parliamentarian," and that, "I feel bad about it, but we've taken immediate action to rectify it."

Both Sessions and Fitzpatrick were administered the official oath on Thursday, but not before they took numerous votes, and Sessions' lack of standing caused the Rules Committee to adjourn during a meeting on repealing the health care reform bill.

On Friday, Democrats accused Republicans of insincerity in dealing with the issue. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-New York, speaking on the House floor, said "the constitutional requirement for oath was violated." And, "When Mr. Sessions and Mr. Fitzpatrick stood up in front of a television set and held their right hand up ... I suspect, they were violating a very important part of these proceedings."

"Mr. Sessions presided over the Rules Committee during a large portion in which he was not even a duly sworn member of the United States Congress. Yet we're doing nothing to go back and see whether that influenced proceedings at all," Weiner said.

Republicans Friday pushed through a resolution that corrected the Congressional record and nullified the votes cast by Fitzpatrick and Sessions before they were sworn in.

A watchdog group also raised questions about whether the reception Sessions and Fitzpatrick attended during the swearing in was a fundraiser. The Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan group supporting transparency in government, pointed out the invitation to the event asked for contributions of $30 or more.

Fitzpatrick dismissed the claim, saying the reception "was absolutely not a fundraiser."

"Individuals that wanted to come down on buses paid for a bus trip to get to the Capitol. But there was no charge at all to attend the event, there never was." he explained.

Fitzpatrick told CNN he thinks he has done all he can to rectify the swear-in mishap. He says he got some "ribbing" in the House gym Friday morning, but added, "I'm sure it's all in good fun."

Fitzpatrick also tried to turn the subject back to "health care and what to do about the excessive government," saying Democrats who are drawing attention to this story, "obviously don't want to talk about the real issues."

Filed under: Congress • House
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Debbie from Arizona

    Nothing surprises me anymore when it has to do with Republicans. So the folks at the reception were there to see him sworn in, but he missed taking the oath because of the reception? And Sessions, who is from Texas, was there because....

    January 7, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  2. MAC

    I haven't seen the democrats apologize and admit to their major part in the housing bubble that caused this last recession by stopping the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. At least these two republicans did apologize.

    January 7, 2011 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  3. Belcher

    OGM will never repeal HC reform this way

    January 7, 2011 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  4. Glenn Koons

    As long as these two dopes don't raise our taxes, spending and regs. like every lib Dem, I accept their apology. Now go to work to undo the socialism of the Obama regime.

    January 7, 2011 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  5. MikeH

    These two Republicans did not get sworn in yet were allowed by their party to vote and introduce legislation. It was only after Constitutional Watchdogs pointed out how absolutely illegal this is, that the Republicans got sworn in. Apology? Don't believe for a moment that the Republicans care about the Constitution. They only serve their corporate masters.

    The current Republican party is the most corrupt, venal, and traitorus political party since the Civil War.

    The Constitution and America's Democracy is under Direct Threat from the Republican traitors, America is in great danger now.

    January 7, 2011 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  6. Judas

    “We understand that our error allowed the integrity of this great legislative body's proceedings to be called into question.” Integrity? Oh puhleeze…what a heaping load of crap! Does anybody know just how many lightning rods are installed on the Capitol dome? With all the two-faced grifters that infest that building it has to get hit at least 1000 times a day.

    January 7, 2011 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Congress is being run arbitrarily like a drunk is in charge. Not only are the republicans violating the constitution, they are violating the rules they adopted yesterday.

    January 7, 2011 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  8. Squigman

    No mercy. Take em out back and cane their asses. Oh I forgot, they're republicans and are forgiven their sins.

    January 7, 2011 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    As someone from Sessions' state, I am deeply disappointed in his failure to do what he has been elected to do!!!!

    January 7, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  10. Gil

    Just another example of where the interests of the repulsive republicans lie! They are out for only themselves and special interests. The heck with the American people! I hate all republicans!

    January 7, 2011 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  11. Orlando American

    Not intentional? They raised their hands to a television set thinking their photographed intention could somehow count and fake it.

    No, Mr. Fitzpatrick, many Americans think swearing a legitimate oath to our Constitution is a real issue. A politician may try to lie about the fundraising, but the truth is his campaign only removed the request for $30+ donations after the political nonsense was publicly exposed from his website. Credibility please.

    January 7, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  12. LGNY

    Enough already. Apology accepted, please get on with being a legislator.

    This has already drawn too much press attention.

    January 7, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  13. Disgusted

    Mr. Sessions, Mr. Fitzpatrick - You were elected to do the people's business, not party with a small group of your toadies when the body is in session. (I love that. Mr. Sessions missed the session.) Anyway, if you can't figure out how, where and when to the simplest thing possible (raise your hand and repeat an oath - you didn't even have to write your own vows!), how can we trust you to handle complex matters? Oh, we shouldn't. You're Republicans.

    January 7, 2011 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |