While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is currently serving her second term in the leadership position, the upcoming election has prompted her to play out an increasingly unlikely scenario in which she ends up in an even higher office.
During a press conference on Thursday, she spoke about what could happen in the case of a contested election, including one series of events landing her in the Oval Office, as reported by the Washington Examiner.
“We will be ready”
She began by challenging President Donald Trump’s assertion that, given the GOP’s advantage among the state delegates responsible for choosing a president in the case of a contested race, his re-election bid would benefit by the outcome being decided in the House.
“We go to the president saying at his rallies … ‘I’m going to take this to the House, the House could decide this,'” Pelosi said. “And he points out, ‘We have 26 Republican states, they have 22, so we have the edge in the House.”
Using that deficit as motivation to rally her party a month before Election Day, the speaker went on to imagine how an electoral challenge could come down in favor of Democrats, if not her personally.
“Now, the Constitution, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, says the House shall choose if there is no resolution at the Electoral College in a timely fashion,” Pelosi continued. “As you may recall, I said that we will be ready. We will be ready. And we are going to be ready. The Constitution clearly says the majority, so 26 is one vote away.”
She said Election Day will provide an opportunity to close that gap, citing “multiple opportunities” to win over at least one GOP state delegation. If that effort ends without a majority, Pelosi went on to not that “it goes into another range where the speaker becomes the [president],” acknowledging that it becomes “complicated after that.”
“It hasn’t happened in 150 years”
Pelosi ended her weekly press conference with a message aimed directly at the president.
“There ain’t no light at the end of the tunnel for you in the House of Representatives,” she said. “So don’t cause chaos because you think it will lead to a light at the end of the tunnel. Because the light at the end of the tunnel in the House is going to be a train coming right at your plan.”
The speaker is clearly planning for a rare occurrence, but the House has played a role in deciding presidential races in the past. As Examiner chief congressional correspondent Susan Ferrechio explained, “it hasn’t happened in 150 years.”
“In such a scenario, each House state delegation would cast one vote for president, depending on the majority party in each delegation,” she noted.
In light of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis and hospitalization, the 25th Amendment has also been mentioned in reports regarding what could happen should he be unable to perform his duties. In this scenario, Pelosi would also play a central role and would be near the top in the line of succession.