House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she would seat Iowa Republican Congresswoman-elect Mariannette Miller-Meeks on Sunday despite a challenge from defeated Democratic candidate Rita Hart making a direct appeal to the House.
Hart, having lost the race in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District by six votes, has refused to concede and instead launched a challenge to the results in the House, forgoing state channels for contesting an election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says in a news conference she will seat Iowa Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks Sunday, despite on ongoing challenge from Democratic opponent Rita Hart. This race was decided by just six votes in IA-02. https://t.co/1kalPlYe1O
— Brianne Pfannenstiel (@brianneDMR) December 30, 2020
The mechanism used to challenge the narrow-thin margin directly in the lower chamber had not been triggered since 1984 between Democratic incumbent Frank McCloskey and Republican challenger Richard McIntyre in Indiana. At the time, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, presiding over a wider majority than Pelosi enjoys today, denied the state-certified winner, McIntyre, the seat until the process played out. After the Government Accountability Office re-examined the race and declared McCloskey the winner by four votes, the Democratic House voted the incumbent member of their caucus would retain the seat.
Pelosi’s decision to seat Miller-Meeks, who has also been certified as the rightful winner by state election officials in light of the ongoing challenges from the Democratic opponent, will likely be the nail in the coffin for Hart’s hopes of joining the 117th Congress.
With Miller-Meeks preparing to take her place next week, Pelosi is concurrently readying to defend her speakership presiding over the slimmest majority of her congressional career. Despite pollsters predicting Democrats would expand their power in the lower chamber this November, House Republicans triumphantly flipped 13 seats for a net gain of 10, retaining every incumbent and only losing seats that featured open races.
The only race left to be called remains in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, where a botched process by election officials has prompted recounts and litigation. On Tuesday, Republican challenger Claudia Tenney, running to regain her seat lost in 2018, took the lead with about 30 votes in the ongoing recount nearing its final ballots.