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

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDeGette dropped from chief deputy whip spot Pelosi agrees to term limits vote; insurgency collapses Tim Ryan backs term limits deal with Pelosi 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 HarrisNorth Carolina on cusp of House race reset North Carolina GOP operative accused of once possessing over 800 absentee ballots The Hill's Morning Report — Takeaways from the battle royal in the Oval Office MORE, who has a slim lead over Democrat Dan McCready in a contest dogged by allegations of election fraud.

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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 PittengerNorth Carolina on cusp of House race reset NC GOP will call for new election if early votes were leaked NC Dems call on GOP candidate to answer questions about alleged electoral fraud 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 LofgrenHillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — Google CEO gets grilling before Congress | Pressure builds for election security bill | Trump to target China over IP theft | Experts warn cyber criminals growing more brazen Dem lawmaker asks Google CEO why Trump's photo shows up when she searches for 'idiot' Disputed North Carolina race raises prospect of congressional probe 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.