More than a month after the polls closed on Election Day, two House races are still too close to call — and the final outcome might end up being decided by the Democrat-controlled House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) just suggested that the House could ultimately take control and determine the winner of the two races, which are for New York’s 22nd and Iowa’s 2nd Congressional Districts.
“The House decides who it will seat”
Speaker Pelosi weighed in on the undecided House races Friday during her weekly press conference with reporters, the Washington Examiner reported. She revealed the possibility that one or both of those races could end up being reviewed by the House Administrative Committee and ultimately voted on by the current House, as per a provision in the Federal Contested Elections Act.
That is a rarely utilized option for determining exceptionally close races, the Examiner noted. It was last used in 1985 when the House settled a disputed election in Indiana’s 8th District in which the Democratic incumbent had initially won by less than a hundred votes but then lost following a pair of recounts that flipped the final result in the Republican challenger’s favor.
“The issue relating to Iowa is an issue for the House Administration Committee,” Pelosi said. “It’s my understanding that Rita Hart, an excellent candidate for Congress, will be asking the House to take this up. For further information about the technicalities of that, that becomes a House, not a political but a House Administration matter. The House decides who it will seat.”
Six-vote margin in Iowa
According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Democratic candidate Rita Hart has petitioned the Democratic-controlled House to step in and presumably declare her the winner over Republican candidate Marianette Miller-Meeks, who has been certified by the state as the victor with a mere six-vote lead.
Miller-Meeks had led the race by just 282 votes on Election night but, following the counting of additional absentee ballots, the correction of small mistakes in various precincts, and a pair of recounts, Miller-Meeks appears to have clung to the precarious win.
In response to the Democrat candidate’s petition to the House for intercession, Miller-Meeks told Des Moines CBS affiliate KCCI, “For her to jump past the courts in Iowa and go directly to the House Administration Committee shows that this is a political, partisan process where they’re trying to get votes any way they can get votes whether or not an Iowan cast that ballot.”
Still counting in New York
As for the still undecided New York race, Pelosi told reporters that it was “a completely different situation,” according to the Examiner. “In New York, there could be 1,500, 5,000 votes not counted yet. So, that is going to the court Monday,” Pelosi was quoted as saying. “And we’ll see what happens in the court. That may end up in the House. I don’t know, but the court will decide which votes will be counted.”
Former Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney enjoyed a 28,422 vote lead at the end of Election night but saw her lead dwindle to less than 100 votes following the intermittent discovery of more absentee ballots over the days and weeks since then, and now only leads incumbent Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi by just 12 votes.
Local ABC affiliate WSYR reported that a Supreme Court justice is expected to determine the appropriate path forward for the 22nd District race on Monday, as the judge will likely decide whether or not to count a couple thousand or so absentee and provisional ballots that are under dispute.
Given Pelosi’s unexpectedly shrinking majority in the House — the opposite of what had predicted prior to the elections — there is little doubt that the speaker would like nothing better than for the House to be able to step in and decide, presumably in favor of her fellow Democrats, which candidates from those two undecided races will ultimately end up being seated in the House.