Among the many close races and unexpected outcomes of the most recent election cycle, one congressional race in Iowa was perhaps the most notable.
Although Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) was declared the winner by a razor-thin six-vote margin, her Democratic challenger is now hoping to overturn the results — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has insinuated that it would have been her “right” to refuse to seat the Republican.
“If I wanted to be unfair”
For her part, Democrat Rita Hart complained to Congress over the narrow loss, arguing that if 22 ballots that were not counted were added to the total, she would emerge as the winner.
The election results were certified by the state and many of Pelosi’s colleagues on both sides of the aisle are apparently not interested in entertaining any path to overturning Miller-Meeks’ win.
Pelosi, on the other hand, continues to tout her own power to potentially impact the election, as she made clear in a press conference this week.
“If I wanted to be unfair, I wouldn’t have seated the Republican from Iowa, because that was my right on the opening day,” she said. “I would have just said, ‘You’re not seated,’ and that would have been my right, as Speaker, to do.”
Reps. Lou Correa (D-CA) and Dean Phillips (D-MN) are among those in her party who have dismissed the idea of Congress weighing in on the state-certified election results, insisting that such a disruption would cause unnecessary division.
“She needs to read the SCOTUS interpretation”
Many pundits and experts, including political science professor Eddie Zipperer, say that Pelosi should revisit the Constitution and applicable legal precedents if she believes it is in her power to prevent an elected official from being seated in the House.
She needs to read the SCOTUS interpretation of the clause she’s referring to in Powell v McCormack. SCOTUS says a seat cannot be denied to a duly elected Rep who meets the constitutional qualifications. https://t.co/j6Bs1hPgZj
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) March 26, 2021
That is not to say that Miller-Meeks, or any other lawmaker, could not be booted from Congress. Hart took her complaint to the House Administration Committee, which has the power to “recommend” a vote to unseat a representative following a contested election.
It would only take a majority vote to bring about that outcome, but Pelosi’s party holds one of the slimmest majorities in recent congressional history — so even a handful of Democratic holdouts would doom the effort.
While the House speaker would obviously like to add another Democratic lawmaker to her side of the aisle, the political havoc such a scenario could cause — especially with midterm elections approaching next year — might be too much for Pelosi to overcome.