Aide revises Pelosi’s comment on timing of next steps in contested Iowa race

    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gavels the close of a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry centered on U.S. President Donald Trump Oct. 31, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON — A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is clarifying a remark Pelosi made Thursday, when she indicated that a House panel would decide on Monday whether a challenge to the results in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District meets “certain criteria to go forward.”

    Pelosi made that comment to reporters Thursday during her weekly press conference, in response to a question about the mounting controversy over the challenge from Democrat Rita Hart to Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ six-vote win.

    Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, said in a statement Friday that her remark was intended to reference written briefings that the House Committee on Administration expects to receive Monday from both candidates.

    Those briefings “could inform a path forward,” Hammill added.

    The Democratic-controlled Committee on Administration is tasked with reviewing Hart’s challenge to the election results.

    It also received filings this week from both candidates, after seeking their input on the scope and timeline for the panel’s investigation.

    The outcome of the House panel’s investigation will have ramifications not just for the Iowa district’s voters, but for the Democrats’ narrow majority in the House of Representatives. Democrats control the chamber 219-211, with five vacancies.

    Republicans have criticized the election challenge, calling it an attempt to steal a House seat. Miller-Meeks was provisionally seated in January based on the state certified results, and has been voting and otherwise representing the district.

    Hart has maintained that 22 ballots were uncounted due to election issues, and Democrats supporting her challenge say they are following procedures in federal law for reviewing close election results.

    Meanwhile on Friday, a group of GOP U.S. senators that included Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent letters to companies that have said they would not make campaign contributions to lawmakers who objected to state electoral results in January.

    In the letters, the Republican senators sought to draw a parallel between objections to presidential election results — which drew support from the violent rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 — and the election challenge to the Iowa congressional results.

    They argued in the letter to more than a dozen corporations that those businesses also should not financially back lawmakers who support the Iowa challenge.

    “If you decide to not speak out about this brazen attempt to steal an election, some may question the sincerity of your earlier statements and draw the conclusion that your actions were partisan instead of principled,” the senators wrote to Marriott, Hallmark, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Best Buy, Amazon, Dell, AirBNB, The Chamber of Commerce, AT&T, Verizon, Dow Chemical, Walt Disney, Intel, Cisco, Mastercard, Nike, and Edison.

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki, asked at a Friday briefing if the president agrees with the arguments in the letter, defended the House process. “I believe that the process that is outlined by the House of Representatives is what’s being followed here to ensure every vote is counted. So, no, he wouldn’t agree with that,” Psaki said.

    Laura Olson
    Laura covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes Iowa Capital Dispatch. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.