Call it a stumble out of the gate. Or a failure to find the gate entirely. Veteran Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) and freshman Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) failed to make the official swearing in ceremony yesterday, a violation of the Constitution that has sent Republicans scrambling and briefly brought an end to the new majority's push to repeal the health care reform law.
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While the rest of the House was being made official in the chamber, Sessions and Fitzpatrick were outside the room at an event for Fitzpatrick supporters. The pair reportedly took their oath to a televised image from inside the chamber. Huffington Post's Ryan Grimm reports the event was part of fundraiser for Fitzpatrick.
Freshly-minted House Rules Committee chair David Dreier (R-CA) had to recess hearings on repealing the health care law after he learned that Sessions, a member of the committee, was not in fact a Constitutionally-valid member of the 112th Congress. Sessions had been casting votes all day like the duly-sworn members on the committee.
Dreier spokesperson Jo Maney told TPM that she "didn't know it happened" that Sessions wasn't sworn in, but after Dreier found out about it, he recessed the hearing to sort out the mess.
Sessions has now been officially sworn in as required by the Constitution, Maney said. The same goes for Fitzpatrick, she said, though that's of less concern to the health care repeal as he's not a member of the Rules Committee like Sessions is. But the failure to be sworn in could mean the rules package the House passed on Wednesday doesn't count, according to Roll Call. The action is now behind the scenes, as Speaker John Boehner tries to persuade House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to agree to a unanimous consent decree that would make all the work Sessions and Fitzpatrick did over the past day count retroactively.