Two House Republicans Vote, Participate In Floor Debate, Before Taking Oath Of Office


WASHINGTON — Two House Republicans have cast votes as members of the 112th Congress, but were not sworn in on Wednesday, a violation of the Constitution on the same day that the GOP had the document read from the podium.

The Republicans, incumbent Pete Sessions of Texas and freshman Mike Fitzpatrick, missed the swearing in, but watched it on television from the Capitol Visitors Center.

“That wasn’t planned. It just worked out that way,” said Fitzpatrick at the time, according to local press on hand, which noted that he “happened to be introducing Texas Congressman Pete Sessions while glad-handing his supporters in the Capitol Visitor Center that he secured for them when the House swearing in began.”

There is no provision in the Constitution for a remote swearing-in by television. On Thursday, Fitzpatrick was one of the members who read the Constitution from the dais

Obviously, this was an oversight albeit an embarrassing one, although one wonders why Sessions most especially didn’t come clean about this before yesterday’s vote on the Rules package considering that he’s been a Member of Congress for fourteen years. One would think he at least would be aware of the importance of the Oath.

UPDATE (James Joyner): HuffPo’s Ryan Grim wins Headline of the Day honors forTwo House Republicans Missed Swearing In While At A Fundraiser In The Capitol, Violating Constitution On Day It Was Read.”

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. wr says:

    I’m sure he’s aware of the importance of the oath, just like he’s aware of the importance of the deficit. And he’s happy to use either of them as a weapon to get his way, but also to ignore them when they become inconvenient.

  2. sam says:

    Expel them!!!!

  3. athiest hater says:

    Promote them!!!!

  4. athiest hater says:
  5. epistorese says:

    Open question: If these two had been Democrats, would they have been allowed to debate and vote or would the “rule of law” as mandated by the Constitution been “upheld?”

  6. Gustopher says:

    Clearly they should at least get a meaningless slap on the wrists, and their votes should not be counted. I don’t think it is a big deal, and it won’t effect the outcome of anything, but there should be some consequences.

    Unless, of course, we are allowing all sorts of people who are not sworn-in members of congress to vote on things, in which case, I want to get to Washington and vote on crap.

  7. tom p says:


    >>>>Unless, of course, we are allowing all sorts of people who are not sworn-in members of congress to vote on things, in which case, I want to get to Washington and vote on crap.<<<<

    I'm with Gustopher.

  8. sam says:

    I just saw the film clip of these two guys, surrounding by supporters, “taking” the oath in front of a television set showing the real swearing-in…Heh. What’s next? A Facebook entry?

  9. sam says:

    Come to think of it, the Facebook thing’s not all that far-farfetched. I mean, as it stands now, Senator Foghorn can call in from poolside in Boca and tell the minority leader he’s filibustering a bill.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    TPM is reporting that Boehner is trying to convince Pelosi to accept all the votes by unanimous consent (Sessions was voting as a member of the rules committee, so it seems there is more significance to his illegal-ness than Fitzgerald). I think Pelosi, for purely political reasons, should make them re-vote. Why? Because Sessions and Fitzgerald missed their swearing in because they were at a FUNDRAISER. An extra couple of days of Democrats repeating that for every camera available should be worth almost as much as a stray death-panel charge.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Nice to know these boys have their priorities straight.

  12. rodney dill says:

    Heh. Maybe they should just use the “We won” defense.