House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her decision Thursday to continue offering her blessing to a Democratic probe into a contested Iowa House race certified by bipartisan state election officials after multiple recounts in Republicans’ favor.
Failed Democratic candidate Rita Hart lost the race in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District to freshman Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks by a mere six votes. Despite Miller-Meeks serving in the House as the certified winner upon multiple recounts, Hart has continued to contest the results with a direct appeal to the lower chamber, bypassing state avenues for challenging a race.
Earlier this month, Pelosi gave the House Administration Committee — chaired by Democratic California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who also served as an impeachment manager for President Donald Trump’s first sham impeachment — the speaker’s approval for an investigation of a race already decided by state law.
“Well it was six votes,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week,” dismissing criticism of double-standards over who may contest an election. The speaker had previously conceded the race in December by seating Miller-Meeks with the rest of the 117th Congress on Jan. 3.
“I look forward to working with you in a Congress that is bipartisan and unifying,” Pelosi told Miller-Meeks in a letter congratulating her on winning the election.
At a Thursday press conference this week, Pelosi defended her decision to change course months into the new Congress, as the House speaker finds it difficult to negotiate passage of legislation with a narrow eight-vote majority.
Pelosi now says she was being “fair” when, in January, she seated Miller-Meeks, who won the will of Iowa voters to represent them in the lower chamber. Pelosi maintained that the speaker has the unilateral authority to choose whether members who win their races are seated.
“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,” Pelosi said. “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.’”
Miller-Meeks now stands at risk of being unseated from the lower chamber depending on the outcome of the investigation run by Democrats.
Hart’s challenge rests on 22 ballots the Democrat’s campaign claims were improperly rejected, which would decide the race in Hart’s favor if they’re counted. At least 20 of the ballots over which Hart has raised issue have already been examined by a bipartisan panel of state election officials who ruled them invalid under Iowa law.