The snafu sent Republican leaders scrambling Thursday afternoon because Sessions and Fitzpatrick had already recorded votes on the House floor and Sessions had even chaired the Rules Committee for a period during a hearing on the healthcare repeal bill. Sessions and Fitzpatrick were spotted huddling with staff off the House floor shortly after a vote on congressional budget cuts.
According to sources, the situation came about when the Speaker's office discovered a photo of Sessions holding his hand up while watching a television showing his fellow colleagues taking the oath on the floor.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) administered the oath to both lawmakers on the floor on Thursday, but Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) abruptly recessed a hearing they attended while officials figured out a way to make the votes that Sessions and Fitzpatrick recorded count.
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.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."
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