House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims she “has the authority” to possibly expel Iowa Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, despite state officials certifying her victory by six votes — after saying that it was her “right as speaker” to not seat Miller-Meeks in the House.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) leads the House with a narrow, eight-seat advantage, making it appealing to add another ally, even though Democrats recently called Republicans “seditious” for objecting to electors for President Biden from two states.
Several centrist Democrats are uneasy with a potential vote to oust Miller-Meeks in favor of Democratic candidate Rita Hart. But Pelosi cast the election challenge as a matter of fairness.
“If you had lost a race by six votes, wouldn’t you like to say, there must be some way that we can count this?” she said at a Thursday press conference. “Now the House of Representatives has the authority to do that under Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution, to determine, to determine that.”
Pelosi said that on Monday, Democrats on the House Administration Committee would decide whether to move forward with a review of the election results. Hart supporters point to the rejection of some ballots.
“I’m going to call to your attention to [committee chairwoman Rep.] Zoe Lofgren’s statement because clearly you and our members need to see that. And I would say to them, if you lost by six votes, would you like to have — would you like to bring your case before that?” Pelosi told a reporter.
The House speaker added, “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. I would have just said, ‘They’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.’ Many members were saying, ‘Don’t seat the person.’ You’re naming a few who are saying, ‘Let’s move on.’”
A move to oust Miller-Meeks would be deeply divisive and some Democrats may side with Republicans.
Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) told Politico, “Losing a House election by six votes is painful for Democrats. But overturning it in the House would be even more painful for America.”
Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) told the publication, “The state of Iowa certified it, and that’s what should stand.”
Successful challenges to election outcomes are rare. In 1985, Republicans walked out of Congress in protest after the Democrat-held House voted not to seat Indiana Republican Rick McIntyre, who had won by 418 votes, according to a certified state recount. A disputed federal recount later found the Democrat ahead by four votes.