Monday, January 10, 2011

Constitution Read on House Floor As Session Opens

The reading of the Constitution was the first item on the agenda as the House of Representatives opened for the new session. The commotion that erupted as this announcement was made would lead a person to think this was some sort of radical idea.

Hardly. This is the perfect nod to the newly engaged American voter - the Tea Party members in particular - who elected the new Republican majority by demanding a renewed focus on the Constitution. There is even a new House rule which will be imposed on any member of the House who wants to introduce new legislation which requires a constitutionality test.

The Constitution has never been read on the floor before. Ever.

One problem arose as two Republican members were not present to take the oath of office and then performed as though sworn in by casting votes.

Rep. Pete Sessions, Texas Republican and a member of the GOP leadership, and freshman Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick, Pennsylvania Republican, were not in the House chamber when new Speaker John A. Boehner administered the oath, which all sides now agree meant they were not duly sworn in.

On Friday, the House voted 257-159 to invalidate the votes the two men had cast but to ratify the other business they conducted, such as introducing bills, submitting statements and participating in committee action.

Embarrassing? Yes. If the integrity of the Constitution is to be restored in importance by the governing body, all must abide by its words. To do otherwise, to use short cuts or bypassing protocol, is to invite criticism.

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