Republicans in Congress seem to have a genius for screwing up their own gimmicks.
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 because they were at a fundraiser in the Capitol Visitors Center. The pair watched the swearing-in on television from the Capitol Visitors Center with their hands raised.
“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.”
House ethics rules forbid fundraising in the Capitol.
My emphasis: In other words, Sessions and Fitzpatrick trashed their own circus not just once, but twice — first by breaking House rules about fundraising in the Capitol, and then by voting on the first day of a new session before they were sworn in.
The mistake cost everyone in terms of time and money, over and above the time and money expended to read the Constitution in the first place, even if it had been done correctly.
“[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,” Sessions, a Texas Republican, and Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican, write in a copy of the letter provided to POLITICO.
In the letter, they say they are sorry even though they didn’t realize at the time that they had erred.
“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.”
Oh well, Fitzpatrick and Sessions weren’t the only ones contributing to this sideshow. Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte had to return to the floor two hours after the reading had ended to read a section that had been omitted because two pages “stuck together.”
That was an oversight, although of course it made Goodlatte and the Republicans look foolish. But another omission was intentional:
Goodlatte had championed the proceedings “to recommit the Congress to the text of the U.S. Constitution,” according to his website. But in addition to the overlooked sections, Thursday’s 90-minute exercise featured other omissions. Goodlatte chose a version of the Constitution that excludes original passages that no longer apply, including ones on slavery.Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said that omitting the slavery clauses amounted to “revisionist history,” the Washington Post reported. In response, Goodlatte explained that “the intent was to read the Constitution as it currently operates.”
Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, given how vehemently, consistently, loudly, and publicly Republicans proclaim their reverence for the Founders’ words and the Founders’ intentions. Now, suddenly, Republicans are acknowledging that the Constitution “currently operates” differently from how it did in the late eighteenth century?
Turning from the floor of Congress to the mind of John Boehner, it turns out that the new Speaker of the House — despite his party’s wins in the last election off a campaign devoted to attacking the deficit and promising to cut spending — cannot actually think of a single specific spending cut he would like to make.
In a way, this isn’t so shocking. Republicans were asked a number of times before the election to identify specific areas of the budget where they would cut spending, and they couldn’t. So if they could not do that when their answers presumably could affect the outcome of the election, why would they be able to do so now?