Washington • Rep. John Curtis was sworn in as Utah’s newest member of Congress on Monday night and swung into action, speaking on the House floor about how he was “honored and humbled” to take on the role and then grabbing his voting card to cast his first yes vote.
Curtis, a Republican and former Provo mayor, is filling the vacancy left by then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz who resigned to take a job with Fox News in June. He’ll have to face voters again in 2018, when all House members face re-election.
“On one hand, it’s overwhelming,” Curtis said before he took the official oath from House Speaker Paul Ryan. “On the other, it’s very exciting.”
It was a whirlwind day for the new House member after a whirlwind campaign to take over the 3rd District seat. Pictures with family, receptions, meetings and plenty of handshakes. It’d been less than a week since Curtis had won the special election but Republican leaders were anxious to get him sworn in with a major tax reform vote slated later this week.
“It’s been the longest five months of my life,” Curtis said, sporting his new member pin and a red tie. His office — formerly Chaffetz’s — was already emblazoned with a plaque for John R. Curtis.
There was no shortage of well-wishers looking to greet Curtis at a reception at the Capitol Hill Club adjacent to the Republican National Committee headquarters.
“He’s going to be a great addition to our Utah team,” said Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, noting he has a lot of catching up to do but she’d gladly help him along.
“You all know what an amazing man he is and how fortunate this country is going to be for his service,” praised House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who had endorsed Curtis and flew to Utah to fundraise for his campaign. “This is an individual who is going to hit the ground running.”
“Thank you, welcome,” added Rep. Steve Stivers, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “We’re going to work you really hard.”
Even Steve Scalise, the House majority whip who was shot earlier this year and spent weeks recovering, made sure to drop by and congratulate Curtis.
While state election officials have yet to hold official canvas, Curtis has a 32-point lead in the race over Democrat Kathie Allen. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, told the chamber there was no question about the results and the state needed to fill the vacancy as soon as possible. No one objected.
With nearly all House members present, Curtis stood in the well of the chamber, clutching a family Bible and raising his right hand for the oath. His wife, Sue, looked on from the gallery with their family and Curtis’ siblings.
After a forceful “I do” to the question of whether he would defend the Constitution and “faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter,” Curtis took to the podium for a short speech thanking his family and offering to work with fellow members. He had scrawled his talking points on two yellow Post It notes
A House aide then handed him his voting card and showed him how to insert it in the box behind a front-row seat.
He hit the green button and a “Y” appeared next to his name on the wall of the gallery. He had backed the Federal Acquisitions Savings Act, which ended up getting 396 yeas and zero nays.