Pelosi downplays concerns from moderates about reviewing contested Iowa race

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday downplayed concerns from centrist Democrats who warned party leaders against potentially overturning the election result of a closely contested House seat in Iowa.

The House Administration Committee is considering a challenge from Democrat Rita Hart, who is contesting the results in Iowa’s 2nd District after the state certified that Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks won by just six votes.

Pelosi maintained that the House has the authority to adjudicate contested elections — especially in a race as close as Iowa’s 2nd District — and challenged Democrats critical of the review to consider how they’d react if their own races were as narrowly contested.

“I would say to them, if you lost by six votes, would you like to bring your case before that?” Pelosi said when a reporter asked about centrists publicly speaking out this week about potentially reversing the election result.

After a recount, Iowa certified the tally and Miller-Meeks was seated in January. Pelosi emphasized that she could have refused to seat Miller-Meeks amid Hart’s challenge, but chose not to despite some Democrats’ encouragement.

“Now, if I wanted to be unfair, I wouldn’t have seated the Republican from Iowa. Because that was my right on the opening day. I would have just said, ‘You’re not seated.’ And that would have been my right as Speaker to do. But we didn’t want to do that. We just said, ‘Let’s just go through this process,’ ” Pelosi said.

“Many members were saying, ‘Don’t seat the person.’ You’re naming a few who are saying let’s move on. But I’m saying then, people said, ‘Why should we seat somebody to have votes for all this time when their election is being contested?’ And we said no, we will seat the member and then we’ll go through the normal process,” she said.

Hart has claimed that there are 22 outstanding votes that, if counted, would be enough to change the outcome in her favor over Miller-Meeks.

Hart has argued that the ballots include a provisional ballot that was uncounted due to an election worker error, an absentee ballot rejected because of the location of a signature on an affidavit envelope, and five absentee ballots that were rejected by election workers for not being properly sealed.

Several centrist House Democrats have expressed reservations about potentially reversing the result of an election certified by a state and after Miller-Meeks has already been in office since January.

“Losing a House election by six votes is painful for Democrats. But overturning it in the House would be even more painful for America,” said Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.). “Just because a majority can, does not mean a majority should.”

Those centrist Democrats further warned that it would come off as especially hypocritical of the party to reverse the result in Hart’s favor after they criticized Republicans for supporting former President Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

“It strikes me as remarkably hypocritical and a dangerous precedent at a time we need to be repairing precedents,” a moderate Democrat said to The Hill on Monday.

House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) emphasized that an election contest can’t be filed with the House until the state certifies the results and noted that there is plenty of precedent with Congress considering dozens of contested election cases in the last century.

“We did not seek out these contests, but we are obligated under federal law to follow the process and the facts,” Lofgren said in a statement Wednesday.

“Republicans know how this process works – over the past 90 years the Congress has adjudicated, in a bipartisan manner, more than a hundred contested elections cases filed by Republicans and Democrats alike in races nowhere near as close as Iowa’s Second. With that history in mind, it is profoundly disappointing some of my Republican colleagues are now painting this process as somehow nefarious,” Lofgren added.

Tags Dean Phillips Donald Trump Iowa Mariannette Miller-Meeks Nancy Pelosi Zoe Lofgren

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