In a follow-up to the embarrassing non-swearing-in of Reps. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., on Wednesday, the House this morning approved a resolution nullifying their votes on six roll call votes, cast when, it turns out, they were still “representative-elect.
Sessions and Fitzpatrick sent letters to every member late Friday apologizing for the episode, saying they were deeply committed to "maintaining the integrity of the People's House."
"Our absence on the House floor during the oath of office ceremony for the 112th Congress - while not intentional - fell short of this standard by creating uncertainty regarding our standing in this body," they said. "We regret that this incident adversely affected House proceedings and apologize for any individual inconvenience our actions may have caused."
The House vote was 257 to 159, with both Sessions and Fitzpatrick abstaining from voting. The 159 votes in opposition were all Democrats although 27 Democrats actually voted with the GOP, including three Texans -- Henry Cuellar of Laredo, Al Green of Houston and Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas.
Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Fitzpatrick, elected in November after losing after one term in 2006, were at a reception off the House floor in the Capitol Visitors Center when the formal swearing-in took place. They put up their hands (see photo) and took the oath from the TV as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, swore in members on the House floor.
Hmmm. A problem, it turns out. House parliamentarians took a pretty dim view of the two being AWOL – the Constitution, ironically read Thursday on the House floor, calls for the oath being taken in person.
Boehner had to go down to the House floor Thursday afternoon and administer the oath to the missing duo. Some media reports called the reception a "fundraiser" - a Hill no-no for the Capitol complex - but Fitzpatrick's office said the cost was for buses to transport guests from Pennsylvania.
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