Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) defeated Democrat Rita Hart by six votes during the Nov. 3 election. When asked about a scenario in which Democrats would unseat Miller-Meeks, Pelosi said it was a “hypothetical” situation but later said it’s possible that it could happen.
“Well, I respect the work of the committee,” she told reporters in her weekly press conference. “I did see, as you saw in the press, what they decided to—and they were following my, as I read it, the requirements of the law as to how you go forward. And how you go forward is the path you’re on and we’ll see where that takes us. But there could be a scenario to that extent. Yes.”
It came after the House Committee on House Administration dismissed a motion filed by Miller-Meeks to dismiss Hart’s election contest.
“The margin separating the two candidates was only six votes out of almost 400,000 cast: less than 1/6 of 1 percent. That’s six votes—not 6,000; not 600; not 60 or even 16—just six fewer votes than we have members of this committee,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the head of the committee, told the panel’s members. She added: “It should not be surprising that any candidate in these circumstances—with a margin this close—would seek to exercise their rights under the law to contest the results.”
Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) said he supported the move to dismiss the contest, noting that Miller-Meeks has been certified the winner.
“Miller-Meeks has won the election, the majority of Iowa has fairly elected their representative. The Democratic majority in Washington should not stand in the way and delay this process any longer and spend taxpayer money on unnecessary legal fees,” he said.
Under the Federal Contested Elections Act of 1969, the House has the ability to decide close congressional races on its own aside from the courts.
“Consistent with these Supreme federal election law and policy, legislative procedure, and Court rulings, the House, in considering contested elections, constitutional provisions regarding congressional authority has at times accepted state counts, recounts, or other state over House elections and membership,” according to a readout of the act.
The House hasn’t reversed the seating of a state-certified election winner in that manner since 1985 when then-Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) approved tossing out Republican Rep. Rick McIntyre, who had been officially seated, and instead accepted the incumbent Democrat, Rep. Frank McCloskey.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.