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Pelosi to seat Iowa Republican as Democratic challenger contests election results

The Hill logo The Hill 12/30/2020 Tal Axelrod
a person wearing a red shirt: Pelosi to seat Iowa Republican as Democratic challenger contests election results © millermeeks2020.com Pelosi to seat Iowa Republican as Democratic challenger contests election results

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday she will seat Rep.-elect Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) this weekend as Democrat Rita Hart contests the results of their race.

Asked at a press conference if she plans to seat Miller-Meeks on Sunday, Pelosi responded, "yes."

Results show Hart having been defeated by Miller-Meeks by six votes after a recount. The initial result showed Miller-Meeks winning by 47 votes. Retiring Democrat Dave Loebsack currently holds the seat.

A spokesperson for Pelosi said in a follow-up statement that the speaker will seat Miller-Meeks "provisionally" and that she will ultimately take into account a review by the Committee on House Administration.

"Every vote counts and that's why the Committee on House Administration is conducting a thorough and fair review of this election to make sure every vote was counted and counted as cast. Pending the outcome of the Committee's review and consistent with House practice, we intend to provisionally seat the Republican candidate on Sunday," said Drew Hammill, the spokesperson.

Hart asked the House to review the race in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District.

She argues the state recount that ended with her trailing by six votes was barred by Iowa law from counting ballots that were not included in the initial canvas. Hart's campaign believes that ballots that were not tallied on election night for any number of reasons and ballots that machines considered overvotes or undervotes could more than make up the six-vote difference.

The House application by Hart sets the stage for a hearing in front of the Committee on Administration, during which she could testify and present evidence. The panel would ultimately file a full report to the House with its recommendation on who should fill the seat.

Miller-Meeks has expressed confidence that she will still be the winner after the House committee's review and has accused Hart of seeking to get Pelosi to intervene.

"Sen. Hart now wants a process run by one Californian, Nancy Pelosi, and decided in Washington's hyper-partisan, dysfunctional atmosphere and not according to Iowa law," she said earlier this month.

The Iowa drama is all taking place as President Trump refuses to concede his defeat to President-elect Joe Biden. On Wednesday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced he would contest the results of the Electoral College when the Senate meets to consider them on Jan. 6, ensuring a full House and Senate vote on the issue.

Biden defeated Trump by more than 70 electoral votes. His margins of victory in the states being contested by Trump's campaign - which include Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan - were by much wider margins than six votes. Biden won Georgia by more than 12,000 votes, the tightest result of those five states.

Miller-Meeks announced in a press release that she submitted her resignation from the Iowa State Senate Wednesday. The resignation will be effective Saturday, the day before she is set to be sworn into the House.

The Iowa House race has taken on outsized significance given the extremely narrow majority Democrats will have in the next Congress. Democrats had been expected to expand on their majority in the November elections but ended up underperforming and losing about 12 seats.

Democrats' narrow majority will be temporarily slimmer still after Reps. Marcia Fudge (Ohio), Deb Haaland (N.M.) and Cedric Richmond (La.) vacate their seats to join the Biden administration. However, they all represent safe blue districts that are virtually guaranteed to elect Democratic replacements in upcoming special elections.

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