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Congressmen Who Skipped Swearing-In Stall GOP Health Reform Repeal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two House Republicans Wednesday somehow neglected to get sworn in as new members of Congress.

A photo on the PhillyBurbs website shows Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas with Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania on Capitol Hill, but during the swearing-in ceremony they were not in the House chamber but rather in front of a television in the Capitol Visitors Center.

On Thursday, Sessions and Fitzpatrick were on the House floor, voting and reading the Constitution -- just like every other sworn-in member of Congress. And Sessions helped preside over a hearing of the House Rules Committee on the GOP’s push to repeal the health care law.

But once GOP leaders learned that two of their members weren’t yet legitimate members of Congress, they abruptly stopped the Rules hearing on the health care law.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., was in the chair at the hearing and had just finished welcoming Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., to the witness table when an aide whispered something into Foxx’s ear.

“I am sorry but we need to take a recess,” Foxx suddenly told Andrews.

Andrews was a bit surprised and joked to Foxx that he should not have just thanked her for letting him testify. Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass. -- who was also waiting to testify at the hearing -- was less amused, muttering, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Andrews asked Foxx when the hearing might restart, but Foxx replied, “I am sorry I don’t know an answer to your question. We’ll make it as short as possible.”

And with that, just before 3 p.m., the hearing adjourned -- over an hour later, it had yet to resume.

Jennifer Crider, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the snafu was no laughing matter.

“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,” Crider said. “Jokes aside, Congressmen-elect Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick’s actions raise serious questions: What in the world was more important to Congressmen-elect Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick than taking the oath of office, committing to support and defend the U.S. Constitution? Why did Speaker Boehner and House Republican leadership allow two people who were not sworn Members of Congress to vote and speak on the House floor? 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.”

Shortly after the Rules committee hearing was stopped, Fitzpatrick and Sessions both appeared back on the House floor and were administered the oath of office by Speaker Boehner.

“During the swearing in of the 112th Congress, Congressman Sessions stated the oath publicly in the Capitol but was not on the House floor,” Davis said. “To ensure that all constitutional and House requirements are fulfilled, Congressman Sessions officially took the oath of office this afternoon from the House floor. Public records and votes will be adjusted accordingly.”

A Republican aide noted that Sessions was present for the quorum call and manual roll call on the election Speaker Boehner, so right now Boehner’s office and the Rules panel are determining the appropriate process to correct the record to reflect Thursday’s oath.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

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