Hoyer: Dems won’t seat Harris until North Carolina fraud allegations are resolved

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks Hispanic Caucus seeks to retain voice in House leadership GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE (D-Md.) on Tuesday warned that Democrats will not seat a North Carolina Republican if allegations of election fraud carry over to next year, when Democrats take control of the lower chamber.

Hoyer, who will be majority leader in the next Congress, said he’s hopeful that North Carolina officials will settle the controversy surrounding Republican Mark HarrisMark HarrisSacramento police reviewing 12-year-old's arrest after video goes viral Trump tweets 'Total Endorsement' of NC GOP House candidate North Carolina state senator wins GOP primary in 9th District MORE, who has a slim lead over Democrat Dan McCready in a contest dogged by allegations of election fraud.

ADVERTISEMENT

But if the issue remains under a cloud of contention — or if local officials certify Harris in a way viewed as partisan — Democrats will investigate the matter themselves before seating Harris, Hoyer said.

“The allegation is of serious fraudulent activity on behalf of the Republican administrator — one or more — dealing with primarily absentee ballots. ... So there’s a very substantial question,” Hoyer told reporters during a press briefing in the Capitol.

“The House ... has the authority over the propriety of the election. This is a very substantial question [and] it ought to be resolved before we seat any member,” he said.

Harris, who defeated Rep. Robert PittengerRobert Miller PittengerBottom Line North Carolina reporter says there could be 'new crop' of GOP candidates in 9th Congressional District race North Carolina board calls for new election in contested House race MORE, a three-term Republican, in the GOP primary earlier in the year, leads McCready, the Democrat, by roughly 900 votes in North Carolina’s 9th District, a conservative stronghold that has not seated a Democrat since the 1960s.

But a number of voters have emerged since the midterms with claims that their absentee ballots were collected illegally. One woman has said she was paid by a GOP operative to do the collecting.  

Amid the allegations, the North Carolina State Board of Elections on Friday declined to certify the results. 

Hoyer said he intends to talk to Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenThis week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Hillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups House panel advances election security bill requiring paper ballots MORE (D-Calif.), who will likely be chairwoman of the House Administration Committee next year, about how to approach the fraud allegations in the district, but he was clear that if the controversy persists into next year, Democrats will not seat Harris. 

“If there is what appears to be a very substantial question on the integrity of the election, clearly we would oppose Mr. Harris’s being seated until that is resolved,” he said.

Updated at 12:54 p.m.