House Republicans are eager to make good on their campaign promise to hold a pointless vote on repealing President Obama’s health care law, but they’ll have to wait a little longer thanks to an embarrassing blunder by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX). Sessions failed to take his oath of office on the House floor alongside the other 430 congressmen yesterday, pretending to take it in the Capitol Visitors Center instead. However, Sessions was the (not quite) Member who offered the health care repeal motion today in the House Rules Committee forcing Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA) to “abruptly adjourn” a hearing on the bill:
Dreier is consulting with the parliamentarian about how to best craft a unanimous consent agreement to rectify the situation, [committee spokeswoman Jo] Maney said.
“We should have an agreement shortly,” she said.
Democratic aides pounced on the Republicans’ blunder.
“Despite the fact that they read the Constitution today, they should have read it yesterday, actually,” one senior Democratic aide said. “I guess swearing in their Members wasn’t part of their pledge.”
In response, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) joked that Sessions “didn’t look as congressional as usual this morning.” Sessions was finally sworn in this afternoon by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), but freshman Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) also missed the official swearing in yesterday, taking part in the faux swearing in with Sessions. Fitzpatrick read a portion of the Constitution and took a vote on the House floor, despite not, officially, being a member of Congress. In response to the fiasco, “House officials were searching for a precedent to follow but had not yet found a previous instance of members-elect voting without having taken the constitutionally required oath of office.” ThinkProgress placed calls, which were not immediately returned, to Reps. Fitzpatrick and Sessions’ offices and will update with responses.
The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim reports that Sessions and Fitzpatrick missed the swearing in yesterday because they were at a fundraiser in the Capitol Visitor Center. However, Politco reports “There has been no indication that Fitzpatrick raised money during the celebration in the Capitol Visitor Center.” ThinkProgress has inquired with Fitzpatrick’s staff regarding the event.
,In a statement to ThinkProgress, Fitzpatrick spokesperson Darren Smith said the congressman in fact “took the oath of office” when he watched it on TV in the Capitol Visitors Center (CVC). Smith added that “when the oath was administered, Congressman Fitzpatrick had already signed the written oath of office provided by the Clerk of the House” and was only “re-administered the oath…out of an abundance of caution.” However, Dreier seemed to disagree. He awkwardly restarted the Rules Committee hearing this evening and deemed that the oath in the CVC was not official, and said that his committee will write a rule to address potential problems. Watch it: