The top two Republicans in Congress are blasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Democratic majority for considering a challenge to Iowa GOP Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ razor-thin victory in last November’s election.
Miller-Meeks defeated Democrat Rita Hart by just six votes out of nearly 400,000 cast to represent Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, which covers most of the southeastern part of the Hawkeye State. It was the closest margin of any U.S. election in nearly half a century.
Hart is challenging the results, which were certified by the state following a recount. But rather than go through Iowa’s courts, she’s asked the Committee on House Administration to investigate 22 ballots she argues were improperly counted and which she says would have put her in the lead.
Republicans emphasize that Hart should have taken her challenge to Iowa’s courts rather than place the combustible dispute in front of a partisan political panel.
“Speaker Pelosi and Washington Democrats have set out trying to overturn the result from here in Congress,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell charged Thursday in comments from the Senate floor.
“The voters of Iowa’s 2nd District spoke in November. Their votes were counted. Then recounted. The outcome was certified. There was the opportunity to present complaints in court, but the defeated Democrat passed it up,” McConnell said. “The process played out in the way that every liberal in America spent November, December, and January insisting was beyond question. But there’s a catch. This time, the Republican won and the Democrat lost.”
And he slammed Pelosi and House Democrats – who hold a razor-thin majority in their chamber – accusing them of “hypocrisy” and calling them “shameless.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday also blasted House Democrats, telling reporters, “I would not put it past them to try and steal a race.”
That’s similiar to the language Miller-Meeks and Republicans are using in a fundraising push.
The top Republican in the chamber emphasized that “Mariannette Miller-Meeks won the race, won the recount, and was certified,” and urged that the House Administration committee “should uphold exactly what the recount said.”
McCarthy criticized Hart, arguing she “didn’t go through the court system, which was the appropriate place to go. She said I’m taking it directly to the House because that’s where she thinks she can get the outcome she desires.”
Pelosi provisionally seated Miller-Meeks in January when the House was sworn in. Asked last week by reporters if she might potentially remove Miller-Meeks and seat Hart, Pelosi said “there could be a scenario to that extent.”
Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, the House Administration chair, postponed a vote on Miller-Meek’s motion to dismiss Hart’s election challenge. Lofgren has given both sides until March 29 to submit written responses to a series of questions before deciding what steps to take next.
The Democrats currently hold a 219-211 majority in the House, their tightest majority since World War II.
There are currently five House vacancies. Three of the vacant seats were won by Democrats and two by Republicans in last year’s elections. Special elections are being held this spring and summer to fill the vacant seats.