Pelosi: It Was “My Right” Not To Seat GOP Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks And “I Want Credit” For That

At her virtual weekly press conference on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she had the right not to seat the winner of a closely contested House seat in Iowa — if she had “wanted to be unfair.” She also said she deserves “credit” for not doing so.

She said: “If I wanted to be unfair, I wouldn’t have seated the Republican from Iowa, because that was my right on opening day.” Pelosi then said, “I would have just said, ‘You’re not seated.’ And that would have been my right as Speaker to do.”

Democrat Rita Hart is contesting the results in Iowa’s 2nd District after the state certified that Republican Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks won by less than ten votes.

“Many members were saying, ‘Don’t seat the person,'” Pelosi said. “You’re naming a few who are saying let’s move on. But I’m saying then, people said, ‘Why should we seat somebody to have votes for all this time when their election is being contested?’ And we said no, we will seat the member and then we’ll go through the normal process.”

“But it would have been under the rules allowable for me to say, ‘We’re not seating the Member from Iowa.’ We did not do that. So, I want credit for that.”

Full transcript of Pelosi’s question and answer:

Q: Well, I’ll get to my question. Thank you for doing this, Drew, and thank you, Speaker Pelosi. My question is the investigation into the IA-2 race is causing some, maybe like heartburn, for Democrats, because some of these moderates in your party have come out opposed to unseating Rep. Miller-Meeks and I wondered what your thoughts were on that, Madam Speaker.

Speaker Pelosi. Well, I don’t know that they’ve come out opposed to that. The fact is – let me, let me – I appreciate your question. Yesterday, the Chair of the House Administration Committee, Zoe Lofgren, issued a statement on the contested election, Iowa’s Second Congressional District. In it, she talks about the process that is involved there.

Now, if we wanted – and this is a very clear process. It can only begin when – come, a person is certified in the state. So, people say, ‘Well, the person certified. Why are you doing this?’ Well, we couldn’t do it unless they were certified. If you read it – let me, let me just tell you that this is, this is more than 100 contested elections, filed by Democrats and Republicans, pretty evenly, and under the law, state certification is a prerequisite for establishing a contested case. Four hundred thousand votes cast. Six vote difference. 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.

Now, the House of Representatives has the authority to do that, under Article One, Section Five of the Constitution to determine, to determine that. So, it – but it’s a process and this, again, we’re not – we didn’t seek out these contests or – two, two actually. Two, one brought by the Republicans, one brought by the Democrat – the Republican candidate, Democratic candidate. We didn’t seek them out, but we were obligated under federal law to follow the process and the facts. So, I want to call to your attention to 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?

This was – in the beginning of our country, when President Washington was president was when this first started. The first standing committee was called the Committee on Elections. It was – the first contest was brought in April of 1789. Over the past 90 years, as I said, that Congress has adjudicate in a bipartisan manner. More than 100 cases, bipartisan. Two cases are pending. One is Republican. One is Democrat.

And by the way, Leader McCarthy previously served with Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren on the task force that reviewed contested elections. In that matter, the Committee brought in the GAO to look at voting machines and examine votes. Because, as Leader McCarthy said on the House Floor at that time, we wanted to make sure we were going through this, and we looked at every single one.

He had also said – he also – he served on this task force to investigate the last substantive contested election before the House, and had said at the outcome of the investigation, he said that the outcome of the investigation, the Americans, ‘The American people can be very proud to know that every vote in Florida’s 13th District was counted. The outcome was correct.’ Why? And again, why would we not want that for the Second District of Iowa?

So, we have, again, when the courts have ever looked at any of this, Scalia even confirmed this is the House’s right to do this. So, I think it’s Monday, they’ll [receive written briefings] as to if these challenges meet certain criteria [that could inform a path] forward, next Monday. And I’m very proud of the work of Zoe Lofgren. She knows election law so very, very well. And we want to be fair.

Now, if I want 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 know, you’re naming a few who are saying, ‘Let’s move on.’ But I’m saying, then people said, ‘Why should we seat somebody to have votes for all this time when their election is being contested?’ And we said, ‘No, we will seat the Member, and then we’ll go through the normal process.’ But it would have been under the rules allowable for me to say, ‘We’re not seating the Member from Iowa.’ We did not do that. So, I want credit for that.