A Wisconsin member of the U.S. House of Representative’s was elected speaker of the house Friday.
“Sadly, however, I didn’t get to keep the job,” said Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wisconsin.
In Congress last week, the main legislation on the floor of the House was a bill known as the “Continuing Resolution” to keep the current session of government open until Feb. 7.
Petri said the extra time is needed “to finish up some remaining budget disputes left over from last year.”
When such a resolution is brought up and approved by the House, the speaker has to sign the bill and send it over to the Senate for further action. The real speaker of the house, Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, was not in Washington Friday, so Petri was elected speaker just long enough to sign off on the bill.
“The procedure takes advantage of a loophole and doesn’t really mean a whole lot,” Petri said. “But I enjoyed the opportunity to be speaker of the house for a moment or two.”
Niel Wright, a spokesman for Petri, said often members of Congress go home or to their district offices and aren’t present in session Friday afternoons or Monday mornings.
Wright said the practice of a temporary speaker has happened from time to time that a bill must be signed and the speaker is away.
Wright said that most often in those cases, Congress utilizes a Congressperson from Virginia or Maryland whose home isn’t far from Washington.
Petri has filled in for a missing speaker on a number of occasions, presiding over session as “Speaker Pro-Tempore,” but had never signed legislation as speaker.
“I suppose I could put it on my resume, although I’m afraid I’d have to add an asterisk and a footnote,” Petri said.