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Early votes of two GOP congressmen voided

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Early votes of two Republican congressmen have been invalidated
  • Reps. Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick missed the official swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday
  • They were officially sworn in on Thursday

Washington (CNN) -- The House of Representatives decided Friday to invalidate the initial votes cast in the new Congress by two Republican congressmen: Reps. Pete Sessions of Texas and Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

Other legislative action conducted by the two congressmen was deemed acceptable.

The problem: Sessions and Fitzpatrick missed their official swearing-in on the House floor on Wednesday and weren't yet technically members of Congress when the chamber began its first full day of official business on Thursday.

The two men were attending a reception for Fitzpatrick's constituents in a room on the Capitol campus -- and took the oath of office while watching the floor proceedings on television.

Fitzpatrick's local newspaper, the Bucks Country Courier-Times, recounted the unofficial oath of office.

"Wednesday, a sea of about 500 supporters overwhelmed a large room in the Capitol and caught a break when the Bucks County native took the oath of office in front of them rather than on the House floor," the paper wrote.

"'That wasn't planned. It just worked out that way,'" said Fitzpatrick.

The Constitution says only that members of Congress must be sworn in and only members can vote, but House rules call for the oath of office to be administered on the floor of the chamber.

Both Sessions and Fitzpatrick were administered the oath on Thursday, but not before Sessions' lack of standing caused a stir when the Rules Committee convened to begin its official work on the health care reform repeal bill.

When Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David Dreier, R-California, realized Sessions hadn't been sworn in, he was forced to recess the committee so Democrats and Republicans could figure out how to move forward.

Sessions is a top House GOP leader, and, as chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2010 midterms, worked to sweep the GOP into the majority. He was elected by his colleagues to retain that role for the 2012 election.

Fitzpatrick's spokesman, Darren Smith, said Thursday the Pennsylvania Republican signed a written version of the oath of office before the reception.

"Today, after speaking with the House Parliamentarian, out of an abundance of caution, Congressman Fitzpatrick was re-administered the oath of office by the speaker. The public record will be adjusted accordingly," Smith said.

CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report