Wonderful news on Constitution Day in the House. Even more wonderful? They’ve already voted on some bills. And one of them, Pete Sessions, is … a member of the Rules Committee.
Even Joe Biden knows you have to get sworn in before you vote.
Republican leaders hoped to get a unanimous agreement from the House to retroactively approve of their votes and Sessions’ work at the rules committee after they took the oath on the floor around 3 p.m. Thursday.
Failing that, their votes — which were not difference makers on any of the roll calls in which they participated — would likely be subtracted from the final tallies. House officials were searching for a precedent to follow but had not yet found a previous instance of members-elect voting without having taken the constitutionally required oath of office…
Democrats jumped on the flub — which will surely be taken by some as a serious breach of the nation’s governing principles and by others as an embarrassing blip to the start of the 112th Congress.
“Perhaps they should have read the Constitution yesterday rather than today,” said one senior Democratic aide.
Where were Sessions and fellow Republican Mike Fitzpatrick at the time, you ask? Why, in the Capitol Visitors Center … watching on television. Believe it or not, this snafu generated a full-blown clusterfark during today’s meeting of the Rules Committee — which was supposed to focus on repealing ObamaCare — with GOP Chair David Dreier and Democrat Louise Slaughter trying to hash out what it means for the votes that Session has already taken. Yes, you read that correctly: Louise Slaughter, who thought it’d be fine to pass the Senate’s version of ObamaCare in the House by voting on the reconciliation bill and “deeming” the underlying bill passed, is now suddenly a stickler for proper procedure. Change has indeed come to America, my friends.
Sessions took the oath subsequently but his committee vote yesterday (which weren’t decisive) has now been ruled invalid by Dreier. And thus ends the tale of a dopey unforced error that didn’t really matter but made the media pretty happy for a few hours. Click the image to watch.
Update: According to The Ticket, if Democrats don’t agree to let Dreier’s and Fitzpatrick’s votes yesterday count retroactively, the House might actually have to re-vote on everything thus far — including the candidates for Speaker. Er, why? If worse comes to worst, just strike Sessions’s and Fitzpatrick’s votes from the roll. Worse won’t come to worst, though, since Democrats are now all about cooperation. Right?