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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.

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 Pelosi and her socialist colleagues,” said Mike Berg, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee. 

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 Lofgren (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 Davis (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 Fudge (D-Ohio) and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) get confirmed to Cabinet posts.

Tags Deb Haaland Iowa Marcia Fudge Mariannette Miller-Meeks Nancy Pelosi Rita Hart Rodney Davis Zoe Lofgren

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