Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Congressional Swearing In Ceremony
SOP called the United States Congress switchboard[(202) 224-3121] this morning to find the date and time for the swearing in of the 112th Congress. Here is the answer.
"We don't know yet." Then I asked if the ceremony takes place in the halls of Congress. "We don't know yet, it varies, they haven't told us yet." And folks that is what is running this country.
An unofficial date is January 5th from a search of the net. Let's see. Most of us have to return to work January 2nd. Like the joke goes "And that is when the fight started."
Kathy Gill of About.com gave us this unofficial information about the oath.
The Civil War led President Lincoln to develop an expanded oath for all federal civilian employees (April 1861). That July, when Congress reconvened, "members echoed the president's action by enacting legislation requiring employees to take the expanded oath in support of the Union. This oath is the earliest direct predecessor of the modern oath."
The current oath was enacted in 1884:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
The public swearing-in ceremony consists of Representatives raising their right hands and repeating the oath of office. This ceremony is led by the Speaker of the House, and no religious texts are used. Some members of Congress later hold separate private ceremonies for photo ops.
The Clerk of the House provides this information which is essentially the same.
As required by Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution, Members of Congress shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support the Constitution. Representatives, delegates, and the resident commissioner all take the oath of office on the first day of the new Congress, immediately after the House has elected its Speaker. The Speaker of the House administers the oath of office as follows:
"I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."
Representatives elected in special elections during the course of a Congress generally take the oath of office on the floor of the House Chamber when the Clerk of the House has received a formal notice of the new Member's election or appointment from State government authorities. On rare occasions, because of illness or other circumstances, a Member-elect has been authorized to take the oath of office at a place other than the House. In those circumstances, the Clerk of the House sees to the proper administration of the oath.
The practice of assigned seating for members was abolished during the 63rd Congress in 1913. Now, Members may sit wherever they please. Generally, Democrats occupy the east side of the Chamber on the Speaker's right, while Republicans sit across the main aisle on the Speaker's left. The tables on either side of the aisle are reserved for committee leaders during debate on a bill reported from their committee and for party leaders.
It would seem from that information that the swearing in ceremony is held on the floor of the House immediately after the House elects its Speaker. No religious texts are used in the ceremony including the Bible or the Quran.
BTW, no wonder government is so messed up. The Democrats sit on the right and the Republicans on the left. I almost fell off my seat laughing.
Here is a picture of the electronic voting machine used on the floor.
Electronic Voting Machine
Recorded and roll call votes are normally taken by electronic device, except when the Speaker orders the vote to be recorded by other methods prescribed by the Rules of the House. In addition, quorum calls are generally taken by electronic device. Each Member is provided with a personalized Vote-ID Card which can be used to vote electronically. A number of vote stations are positioned around the Chamber. Each vote station has a slot into which the voting card is inserted and buttons marked "yea," "nay," "present." The stations have an "open" indicator, which is lit when a vote is in progress and the system is ready to accept votes. Members vote by inserting the voting card into the card slot and pressing the appropriate button to indicate the Member's choice.
Members, if they wish, may have their votes recorded by handing a paper ballot to the Tally Clerk, who then records the vote electronically according to the indicated preference of the Member. The paper ballots are green for "yea," red for "nay," and amber for "present." The voting machine records the votes and tallies the result when the vote is completed.
For more information on House Voting Procedures: How Our Laws Are Made: XI. Consideration and Debate, by the House Parliamentarian.
Another piece of trivia about the Hopper.
Representatives introduce bills by placing them in the bill hopper attached to the side of the clerk’s desk. The term derives from a funnel-shaped storage bin filled from the top and emptied from the bottom, which is often used to house grain or coal. Bills are retrieved from the hopper and referred to committees with the appropriate jurisdiction.
The hopper shown here became part of the House Collection of Art and Artifacts after it was retired. It was in use from 1991 to 2003.