Democrats are hesitant to vote on the House floor to overturn the results of an Iowa congressional race, a senior party member told the Washington Examiner.
The possibility of such a dramatic effort has come up because Democrat Rita Hart filed a petition to the House Administration Committee last Tuesday contesting the 2nd Congressional District race, which her Republican opponent, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, won by an exceedingly slim margin.
After a recount of all 24 counties in the district, Miller-Meeks won by just six votes — 196,964 to 196,958.
“Folks are anxious about it, for good reason,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat who is chief deputy whip on the Democratic leadership team.
“For most of us, we’re wired to accept the results that are certified by state and county, canvassers, and it’s very difficult for us to reach into somebody else’s tabulations and decide for ourselves that we want to change the outcome unless there is compelling, overwhelming evidence to support the case, and I haven’t looked at that. I haven’t seen it,” Kildee told the Washington Examiner.
“I think our default setting for many of us — is trust the local process,” Kildee said. “We’ve been making that argument for two months now, it’s pretty hard to make a different argument when it’s convenient.”
Who, if anyone, gets seated on Jan. 3 is a matter of high stakes for both parties. House Democrats are facing their narrowest margin in the majority in nearly 80 years. When the 117th Congress convenes, with Miller-Meeks it office, the House would have 222 Democrats and 212 Republicans. One district, New York’s 22nd District, remains uncalled.
Additionally, the incoming Biden administration has tapped three Democratic House members for roles in the executive branch. Each represents safely blue districts, but special elections to replace them could take several months. That would effectively give House Democrats one over a bare majority, 219 House members, temporarily.
In Hart’s Notice of Contest to the House Administration Committee, she cited 22 excluded ballots, which, if included in the final vote tally, would give her the win over Miller-Meeks.
Kildee noted that Hart’s petition comes at the same time a group of Republican lawmakers plans to contest the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s election to the White House. House members are scheduled to be sworn into office on Jan. 3, and Congress is expected to certify President-elect Biden’s winning electoral count three days later. However, some Republican members say they plan to challenge the certification that day, claiming Biden’s electoral numbers are a result of voter fraud.
“I think it comes to what our predisposition is, and rightfully should be, that we accept the decisions of the states unless there’s some really compelling argument that contradicts it,” Kildee said.
Kildee said that he and other Democrats have raised their concerns with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren.
“There have been some conversations I’m aware of. I’ve had some, so I am aware that others have as well,” he said.
Congress last intervened in a close election 35 years ago over a dispute involving a 1984 Indiana House race in the state’s 8th District. Although the Republican challenger initially was certified the winner by state officials, the Democrat incumbent contested the race in the House, leading to a four-month House battle over who the chamber should seat. Ultimately, the House, controlled by the Democrats, seated the Democratic incumbent.