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House committee to consider Democrat challenge to results in Iowa congressional race

House committee to consider Democrat challenge to results in Iowa congressional race
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A key House committee voted Wednesday to consider a challenge from the Democratic candidate in a contested race for a House seat in Iowa. 

The House Administration Committee voted by a 6-3 margin to table Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’s (R-Iowa) motion to dismiss an effort by Democrat Rita Hart to press the panel to consider the results in the 2020 race in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

The panel will begin examining the merits of Hart’s argument that she should be placed in the House seat.

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The results of the House race were certified in November, handing Miller-Meeks a six-vote victory over Hart.

However, Hart's campaign argues that ballots that were not tallied on election night for a number of reasons and ballots that machines considered overvotes or undervotes could more than make up that difference. She has specifically cited 22 votes that she said were left out of the count.

“At least twenty-two Iowans’ legally-cast ballots still have not been counted due to a string of errors. We are glad to see the House Committee on Administration taking the next step towards ensuring that every legally-cast vote is counted in this race and that all Iowans’ voices are heard. Every legal voter in this country has a right to have their ballot counted and the remedy here is clear  count the ballots,” Hart said in a statement after the vote.

Miller-Meeks’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill, though the House GOP’s campaign arm panned Hart as attempting to overturn the results of a fair election. 

“Rita Hart should immediately cease her undemocratic efforts to usurp the will of Iowa voters and election officials. Iowa voters should decide Iowa elections, not [Speaker] Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million | Wyden opposes gas tax hike | Airlines feel fuel crunch Pelosi: House Democrats want to make child tax credit expansion permanent Pelosi announces change to House floor mask rules MORE and her socialist colleagues,” said Mike Berg, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee. 

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Wednesday’s vote sets up a partisan battle over the seat in a chamber that Democrats only control by five representatives, the narrowest majority in modern history.

Hart will be able to testify and present evidence supporting her case, after which the panel would then file a full report to the House with its recommendation on who should fill the seat.

Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenCapitol Police watchdog calls for boosting countersurveillance This week: Congressional leaders to meet with Biden amid GOP reckoning Capitol Police watchdog back in spotlight amid security concerns MORE (D-Calif.), the chair of the House committee, vowed it would be “transparent, open and fair.” However, Republicans on the committee said the panel is overstepping its bounds by considering Hart’s challenge.

“Our committee should not be moving forward with overturning our colleague’s state certified election. She is a sitting member of Congress with all of the same rights as each and every one of us,” Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisCapitol Police watchdog calls for boosting countersurveillance House Republicans request hearing with Capitol Police Board for first time since 1945 Bipartisan lawmakers weigh in on post-pandemic health care costs MORE (R-Ill.) said before the vote. 

“We already know the outcome of this contest. Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks won a free and fair election. It’s in the best interest of taxpayers and the integrity of our election process to dismiss this motion and to dismiss it today.”

The proceedings have taken on outsized significance given the extremely narrow majority Democrats hold in the House.

The party was hoping to expand on their majority in the November elections but ended up underperforming and losing about 12 seats, and their majority is expected to temporarily tighten even more as Reps. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeCarter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority HHS, HUD team up to extend COVID-19 vaccine access in vulnerable communities Iowa governor signs law allowing landlords to refuse Section 8 vouchers MORE (D-Ohio) and Deb HaalandDeb HaalandCarter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority Biden administration approves major offshore wind project OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden officials unveil plan to conserve 30 percent of US lands and water | Watchdog questions adequacy of EPA standards for carcinogenic chemical emissions | Interior proposing revocation of Trump-era rollback on bird protections MORE (D-N.M.) get confirmed to Cabinet posts.