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Posted at 5:14 PM ET, 01/ 6/2011

Votes of GOP lawmakers who missed swearing-in ruled invalid

By Felicia Sonmez

The votes cast during the first days of the congressional session by two Republican lawmakers who skipped Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony will be invalidated, House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) said Thursday.

Dreier made the announcement at a meeting of the Rules Committee after it became clear that Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) had cast votes during the first two days of the 112th Congress despite having not technically been sworn into office.

According to a report in The Hill, GOP leaders became aware that Sessions and Fitzpatrick had missed Wednesday's swearing-in after a photo surfaced of the two lawmakers reciting the oath in front of a television screen at the Capitol Visitors Center.

"Yesterday, at the time the oath of office was administered, Congressman Fitzpatrick was in the Capitol Building meeting with constituents from Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District," Fitzpatrick spokesperson Darren Smith said. "He took the oath of office at that time. When the oath was administered, Congressman Fitzpatrick had already signed the written oath of office provided by the Clerk of the House. 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."

A spokesperson for Sessions confirmed that the congressman took the oath on the floor Thursday.

Fitzpatrick told the Bucks County Courier Times, which was present when he and Sessions were meeting with supporters during the swearing-in, that their televised "oath-taking" was an impromptu one.

"That wasn't planned," Fitzpatrick said. "It just worked out that way."

Since Wednesday's swearing-in, the House has passed a new rules package, held a live reading of the Constitution and approved a five-percent cut in committee and legislative office operating budgets.

Democrats seized on the incident as evidence that Republicans "can't get their house in order."

"When Congressmen-elect Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick participated in reading parts of the U.S. Constitution on the House floor, Speaker Boehner should have given them Article 6 which requires Members of Congress to be sworn in," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Jennifer Crider said. "Republicans have spent a lot of time over the past two days proselytizing about House rules, but they don't seem very keen on actually following the rules."

By Felicia Sonmez  | January 6, 2011; 5:14 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

Article VI of the U. S. Constitution states, in part:

“The Senators and Representatives…shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution;”

Both Representative Pete Sessions and Representative Mike Fitzpatrick were former Representatives and had previously sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and both Representatives were seen reaffirming that oath in the Capital Visitors Center.

No where in the Constitution does it lay out the time, place or manner of the Oath or Affirmation to support the Constitution except that it must be done before taking office. Indeed, when the Speaker of the House did the group swearing in, it was impossible for the Speaker to discern if every individual member actually swore the oath.

The rules of the House for the 112th Congress were determined after the swearing in, so they can’t prescribe the time, place or manner of the oath of office. The previous oaths of office or the oaths taken in the Capital Visitors Center are constitutionally sufficient.

Which brings us to the nullification of their votes after the fact.

House Resolution 27 states:

“Whereas, Representative-elect Sessions and Representative-elect Fitzpatrick were not administered the oath of office pursuant to the third clause in article VI of the Constitution until after the completion of legislative business on January 6, 2011; and
Whereas, the votes cast by Representative-elect Sessions and Representative-elect Fitzpatrick on rollcalls 3 through 8 therefore were nullities: Now, therefore, be it

• Resolved, That--

(1) the votes recorded for Representative-elect Sessions and Representative-elect Fitzpatrick on rollcalls 3 through 8 be deleted and the vote-totals for each of those rollcalls be adjusted accordingly, both in the Journal and in the Congressional Record;”

While the House and Senate can make their own rules, voiding votes of duly elected Members by resolution in not one of the rules. If they can do it in this case, then why not nullify votes you don’t like to achieve a 2/3 majority to override a presidential veto?

a. I find it deeply troubling that our current House of Representatives seems to have not only made up a time, place and manner restriction for the oath of office that doesn’t exist, but has nullified votes of it’s own Members.

Posted by: EarlyBird1 | January 9, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Wow, that reverence for the Constitution lasted almost two whole days.

Posted by: hayesap8 | January 7, 2011 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Sessions-

Not Sworn In????

Did you not hear the cry for priority #1 in the November Vote??

Do your job and show up!

What a waste of time and money, as you chase fund raising for yourself or your friend!

What a foolish act of disrespect!

You talk urgency, yet you do not act with urgency, your lack of responsibility and improper missing proper actions TO SHOW UP, I would expect from Obama, not one of the main conservative leaders of the Congress.

What arrogance, that is what we voted out in November.

Sorry you did not get the memo, or you just do not get it.

Your former employer AT&T/ Southwestern Bell would never have tolerated such an act, you were trained better.

Rep. Henserling and Rep. DeMint never would have pulled such a stunt. If you are going to run with the big dogs, act like one.

Your arrogant and selfish behavior is not the new program that started on the first day of this new Congress and you were AWOL, and not excusable!

Stop embarrassing us as a party, as a state, and as a district. I have voted for you every time, since I came back to Dallas in 1996.

You have enraged and rained on the excitement of our new day!

I wish I knew how to write a stronger complaint!

PeteLostPriority


Posted by: PeteLostPriority | January 7, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Republicons don't need no stinking rules.

Posted by: SanchosR | January 7, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Rumor has it they were attending an ILLEGAL fundraiser.

Posted by: lddoyle2002 | January 7, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

If they had crossed the fingers of their left hands behind their back would they be able to vote? The way the Congress seems to go against the "will of the people" without guilty consciences it seems they must have.

Posted by: JohnS-WRJ | January 7, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

If they had crossed the fingers of their left hands behind their back would they be able to vote? The way the Congress seems to go against the "will of the people" without guilty consciences it seems they must have.

Posted by: JohnS-WRJ | January 7, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

So it begins. Republicans begin their rule by reading an abbreviated version of the constituttion and most leave before the reading is completed. Then we learn that all the votes Republicans took the first day was unconstitutional because two Republicans couldn't bother showing up to take the oath of office,.
Got to love it. It's like a bad reality show.

Posted by: wstickney1 | January 7, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

So it begins. Republicans begin their rule by reading an abbreviated version of the constituttion and most leave before the reading is completed. Then we learn that all the votes Republicans took the first day was unconstitutional because two Republicans couldn't bother showing up to take the oath of office,.
Got to love it. It's like a bad reality show.

Posted by: wstickney1 | January 7, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

So it begins. Republicans begin their rule by reading an abbreviated version of the constituttion and most leave before the reading is completed. Then we learn that all the votes Republicans took the first day was unconstitutional because two Republicans couldn't bother showing up to take the oath of office,.
Got to love it. It's like a bad reality show.

Posted by: wstickney1 | January 7, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Fitzpatrick is the nasty, fat, teabagger, car salesman freshman who said that he is impressed by no one in Washington.

Posted by: Observer691 | January 7, 2011 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Here again the hypocrites are abundant. They talk a good game about law and order and the Constitution but the standards they espouse must be observed by others but not themselves. It is imperative that we have intelligent and honest Representatives in order to make progress. Imagine that the CBO was widely recognized as being non-political but in order to suit their purposes Republicans are calling their estimates of the cost of repealing health care inaccurate. If it had gone the other way they would have been commended for their efficiency. How can we respect Boehner et al ?

Posted by: fasm7700 | January 7, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Once again, the GOP demonstrates that rules are for others to follow and for them to ignore.

Posted by: mikesba | January 7, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Obviously, these two GOP teabaggers believe in reality TV. They simply wanted to party while they took the oath. They knew that Boener would cover for them.

Posted by: mikesba | January 7, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

One can't blame them for thinking that anything is ten times as official if it occurs on TV. Everything politicians do nowadays revolves around TV anyhow. So why should this be any different? It might look a bit unseemly, but hey, this is the modern age.

Posted by: laboo | January 7, 2011 8:00 AM | Report abuse

"Hey Butt-Head. I dreamed I was at school last night. Do you think that counts for attendance." - Beavis

Posted by: jeff20 | January 7, 2011 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh well seems that the career politician care about one thing only...... MONEY!!!
So the lobbyists will run this Congress too!!

No Change at all .... just a few different faces.

The Cashrarocy is alive & well, disguising itself as a Democracy.

Posted by: bkarpus | January 7, 2011 6:47 AM | Report abuse

and this congress read the constitution? It shows you how much they actually believe in it or follow it. But, they are patriots, yeah right.

Posted by: ssanford001 | January 7, 2011 5:32 AM | Report abuse


Yeap. In fact, did you know that Currently, many insurance companies do not allow adult children to remain on their parents' plan once they reach 19. Companies cannot do that any more. Search onilne for "Wise Health Insurance" and you can insure your kids if you are in the same boat.

Posted by: keithrybicki | January 7, 2011 1:19 AM | Report abuse

You've gotta love these two "patriots" huh? They honestly thought swearing in via the tv at a fund raiser was acceptable?

Too bad they didn't hold their ceremonial and selective constitution reading a couple days early so these clowns would have known that they actually need to be present to be sworn in.

It's awfully hard to take republicans serious these days. If it wasn't so pathetic, it'd be funny.

Posted by: notfooledbydistractions1 | January 6, 2011 11:38 PM | Report abuse

"The bigger travesty is they missed the swearing in so they could attend a fundraiser
Posted by: merrylees"

There is no evidence of that. There is, however, evidence that Martha Coakley, who represented the 60th vote for passing the Democrats' health care reform, skipped the final weekend of campaigning to attend a fundraiser with lobbyists for Big Pharma and health insurers. She didn't get the vote, but the Democrats were able to twist enough arms to pass some version of HCR to benefit the pharmaceutical and health insurance lobby that has GIVEN MORE TO DEMOCRATS THAN TO REPUBLICANS IN THE 2010 CYCLE!

Posted by: cprferry | January 6, 2011 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Good for the Republican House to hold these Representatives accountable. The Democrat Senate used to schedule votes around the late Sen. Byrd's bed time. It shows the difference between the two parties and their respect for tradition and rule of law.

Posted by: cprferry | January 6, 2011 10:59 PM | Report abuse


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Posted by: itkonlyyou440 | January 6, 2011 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Bonehead Boehnner is often seen with one of his crying jags after his martini lunches. I remember a press conference a year ago right after lunch where the tears were flowing. Apparently the GOP will operate exactly like they did under Bush, Reagan, Nixon. Anything illegal the can get away with, they will. And Issa, hoping to be the Prez someday is trying to delegitimize Obama by claiming his Presidency is the most corrupt. This from a hypocrite who never opened his mouth while Cheney was giving his company billions of dollars, some for electrocuting our soldier sons while they were showering. Not one G.D.Republican or Issa ever investigated or opened their cowardly mouths. Most of them can't even spell Constitution. fritz

Posted by: papafritz571 | January 6, 2011 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Poor republicans, they must not understand the constitution. Maybe Boehner can come over and read them to sleep. The bigger travesty is they missed the swearing in so they could attend a fundraiser.

These two have to be dodos of the first order, they have swearing in ceremonies for dog catchers. If you are elected to a public office from the lowest alderman to President you are sworn into office.

Posted by: merrylees | January 6, 2011 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Poor republicans, they must not understand the constitution. Maybe Boehner can come over and read them to sleep. The bigger travesty is they missed the swearing in so they could attend a fundraiser.

These two have to be dodos of the first order, they have swearing in ceremonies for dog catchers. If you are elected to a public office from the lowest alderman to President you are sworn into office.

Posted by: merrylees | January 6, 2011 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Obama had his oath of office re-administered after Roberts got it wrong. I know its petty, but if you can't take the most basic part of the job seriously ...

Get it right, re-vote as needed and move on.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | January 6, 2011 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Democrat DeFazio also missed his swearing-in, not even bothering to tell anyone he was going to be out-of-town, so he wasted people's time while they searched for him, called him and emailed him to find out why he was missing. Is the poster who thought the Republicans were stupid similarly disposed to think the same of DeFazio?

The senators from Oregon sent personal representatives, but he knew that face-time at a public meeting about a veterans' hospital was a better self-promotion than being one of a group taking an oath. He stated that listening to veterans' concerns was more important than taking a ceremonial oath. If he hasn't heard their concerns since being in office since 1987, what has he been doing with his time?

Posted by: krusz | January 6, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Poor republicans, they must not understand the constitution. Maybe Boehner can come over and read them to sleep. The bigger travesty is they missed the swearing in so they could attend a fundraiser.

These two have to be dodos of the first order, they have swearing in ceremonies for dog catchers. If you are elected to a public office from the lowest alderman to President you are sworn into office.

Posted by: merrylees | January 6, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Classic Republicans...

always trying to pull the wool over everyone.

Posted by: pdq31 | January 6, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

This just shows how much the GOP cares about the Constitution. They violated it. Then Speaker Beohner swears them in the next day while the Speaker was under the influence. Boehner slurred his words after attending a fundraiser where according to reports he had 5 glasses of wine and a shot of rum. And then botched the Oath.
John Boehner needs to resign as Speaker. In his first days he allows violations of the Constitution and then gives the oath of office while he himself is under the influence.
He is a complete embarassment to this country and the people he represents should be up in arms.

Posted by: sumo1 | January 6, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Classic Republicans...

always trying to pull the wool over everyone.

Posted by: pdq31 | January 6, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Would the Democrats followed the same procedure by ruling the votes were invalid or would they sweep it under the rug as usual?

Posted by: sales7 | January 6, 2011 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Putting aside the sheer immature stupidity, voting without holding the office is a federal crime.

Posted by: BBear1 | January 6, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Both of them were..(drum roll).... at a fund raising event.

Posted by: Mighty7 | January 6, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

The two Representative should had stop what they doing and follow the rules instead of not following the rule. Now they have to do the oath when they should had done it on Wednesday. Good work Republicans with keeping your party together.

Posted by: mtt_brbr | January 6, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

The two Representative should had stop what they doing and follow the rules instead of not following the rule. Now they have to do the oath when they should had done it on Wednesday. Good work Republicans with keeping your party together.

Posted by: mtt_brbr | January 6, 2011 6:21 PM | Report abuse

The two Representative should had stop what they doing and follow the rules instead of not following the rule. Now they have to do the oath when they should had done it on Wednesday. Good work Republicans with keeping your party together.

Posted by: mtt_brbr | January 6, 2011 6:20 PM | Report abuse

The two Representative should had stop what they doing and follow the rules instead of not following the rule. Now they have to do the oath when they should had done it on Wednesday. Good work Republicans with keeping your party together.

Posted by: mtt_brbr | January 6, 2011 6:20 PM | Report abuse

God, Republicans are stupid.

Posted by: petesnydero | January 6, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

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