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Garamendi, Owens to Be Sworn In Before Health Care Vote

Days before holding a vote on a massive health care overhaul, House Democratic leaders aren’t wasting any time swearing in the newest additions to their party, former California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and attorney Bill Owens (N.Y.).Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held the ceremonial swearing-in of Garamendi on Thursday around noon in the Rayburn Room. Later in the afternoon, he was officially sworn in on the House floor to fill the seat left open by Ellen Tauscher (D), who resigned earlier this year to take a top State Department slot.Owens is set for his swearing-in on Friday; no time has been set yet.Garamendi and Owens were elected in Tuesday’s off-year elections.Pelosi is eager to have the two Democrats ready for business in time for this weekend’s vote on health care reform, a bill that House Democratic leaders are signaling will pass in a narrow vote. Garamendi said during his campaign that he would vote to pass the measure; Owens has been more vague about his support.Owens comes to Congress after a high-profile race marred by internal GOP divisions, despite the district being a longtime Republican stronghold. He will succeed John McHugh (R), who left the House to serve as President Barack Obama’s Army secretary.Garamendi’s race received little attention and was not targeted by the GOP. Democrats have a voter-registration edge of 47 percent to 28 percent in the district, which is along the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay area.