Pelosi: I deserve credit for seating the Republican winner of the Iowa-2 race

Back in December Democrat Rita Hart decided to appeal her 6-vote loss in the Iowa-2 race directly to the House of Representatives. Hart claimed there wasn’t time to try to settle the issue in state court. Instead, she wanted to hand the decision over to Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi agreed to seat the certified winner of the race, Republican Marinette Miller-Meeks, at the beginning of this Congress but that doesn’t mean the issue is settled. As Jazz pointed out earlier this month, Pelosi made a point of saying there was still a “scenario” in which Rita Hart could be judged the winner and seated instead.

There was a fair amount of pushback to that idea from Republicans and also from some moderate Democrats who came out against it. Today Pelosi told reporters that she would have been within her rights as Speaker to not seat Miller-Meeks and that she deserves credit for doing so. “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.”

Pelosi did do the right thing three months ago, so fine I’ll give her credit. But what’s happening now is another matter. Yesterday Rich Lowry pointed out that the Democratic effort to challenge Miller-Meeks win is self-evidently partisan. You don’t bypass the state courts in favor of Nancy Pelosi if you want an unbiased process:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is paying for top Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias, who fought Donald Trump in election cases before and after Nov. 3, to represent Hart…

The Elias brief for Hart offers a tinny excuse for avoiding a contest court in Iowa. It states that Hart did now know about all of the 22 ballots she considers improperly discarded until Dec. 1 and that meant there simply wasn’t enough time to go through the court (it would have been made up of the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court and four district court judges)…

The decision to skip the contest court and go directly to the House of Representatives is transparently an effort to bypass a body that aspires to neutrality in favor of one that does not, and to avoid a decision based on Iowa law to seek one based on the partisan interests of fellow Democrats…

Sure enough, Elias has basically put the point in black and white. Quoting from the last case when a Democratic-controlled House overturned an election (in 1985 to award an Indiana seat to a Democrat), his brief says the committee is “certainly not bound” to follow Iowa law and indeed, “there are instances where it is in fact bound by justice and equity to deviate from it.”

My sense of this is that Pelosi is not going to pull the trigger on ejecting Miller-Meeks in favor of Rita Hart because it would create a lot of blowback she doesn’t need at this moment. Then again, naked partisan power grabs seem to be the zeitgeist on the left. Taking this seat and ending the Senate filibuster would be a perfect one-two combo to show anyone paying attention that Democrats never cared about norms, only about power.