House approves resolution fixing problem with missed swearing-in

The House has just approved H.Res. 26, which is meant to fix the problems created when two Republican members were not properly sworn in on Jan. 5.

The resolution was approved over Democratic objections in a 257-159 vote. More than two dozen Democrats voted for it.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) spoke for Democrats, and said this vote is a “basic test” of whether Congress will take the Constitution “seriously.” But while Weiner sought a longer debate on this issue, House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) rejected this, and stuck to the rule passed earlier Friday, which only allowed for a total of four minutes of debate.

Dreier said on the House floor that anyone who votes against the resolution is “allowing the problem to persist.”

Weiner also made a parliamentary inquiry on whether members can be paid before they are sworn in, but the acting House Speaker said this question was not asked in a proper form.

Before the brief debate took place, Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) asked whether a non-sworn-in member can preside over a committee. The Acting Speaker said they could not, but H.Res. 26 ratifies their participation in any proceedings before they were sworn in. This issue is relevant because Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), one of the members not properly sworn in, chaired portions of Thursday’s House Rules Committee hearing on a rule for healthcare repeal legislation.

The measure invalidates the votes taken by the two members before
they were sworn in. But otherwise, it would essentially treat Sessions
and Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) as if they were sworn in on Jan. 5 with other members.

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