Perhaps chastened by all the trouble they caused, Reps. Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who cast invalid votes on the first day of the 112th Congress because they missed the formal swearing in, are sending a written apology for their gaffe to every member of the House tonight.In the letter
, the Congressmen write:
[W]e are deeply committed to fulfilling our role in our constitutional democracy by 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.
Another excerpt reads:
While we immediately took steps to rectify the situation, we understand that our error allowed the integrity of this great legislative body's proceedings to be called into question," they write. "We regret that this incident adversely affected House proceedings and apologize for any individual inconvenience our actions may have caused.
Sessions and Fitzpatrick were at an event elsewhere on Capitol Hill with Fitzpatrick's supporters at the time of the swearing in, and took their oaths via television. In effect, the two Republicans were temporarily unconstitutional members of Congress on a day when Republicans were making a show of reading the Constitution aloud on the House floor.
Earlier this morning, the House voted 257-159 to forgive the mistake and erase the representative's votes from the record. However, while that settled one loose end, there is still some controversy over whether Sessions and Fitzpatrick broke an election law by attending the gathering with Fitzpatrick's supporters. The law prohibits fundraisers on Capitol grounds, though Fitzpatrick denies the event was a fundraiser.