Government

Hinson and Miller-Meeks won't challenge Electoral College vote

Iowa delegation split or members won't say what they plan to do

Ashley Hinson speaks with journalists after her win in Iowa's 1st Congressional District race at her Cedar Rapids campai
Ashley Hinson speaks with journalists after her win in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District race at her Cedar Rapids campaign office on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. Hinson defeated one-term incumbent Democrat Abby Finkenauer. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Iowa 1st Congressional District U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson has joined 11 other House Republicans in calling for certification of Electoral College results confirming Joe Biden as president-elect.

Sworn into office this week, Hinson joined GOP representatives in making the case that although upholding the results — which favored Biden 306-232 over President Donald Trump — “may frustrate our immediate political objectives,” their oath to uphold the Constitution supersedes politics.

“The text of the Constitution is clear,” Hinson and her colleagues wrote. “States select electors. Congress does not. We have sworn an oath to promote the Constitution above our policy goals. We must count the electoral votes submitted by the states.”

The letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, is in contrast to positions taken by a dozen or more Republican senators and 100-plus House members who have indicated they will challenge electors from states where Trump has disputed the Nov. 3 election results.

The House and Senate are scheduled to meet in a joint session Wednesday for the certification, which typically is a pro forma process.

Republican 2nd District Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who has been provisionally seated while the Democratic-controlled House considers a challenge to her six-vote election victory, has taken a position similar to that of Hinson’s.

“To me, the text of the Constitution is clear: States select electors; Congress does not,” said Miller-Meeks, who as an 18-year-old swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. As a 24-year Army veteran and former state senator, who also swore an oath then, “my allegiance to and support of the Constitution remains my first guiding principle.”

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“As a member of Congress who wants to limit the power of the federal government, I must respect the states’ authority here,” Miller-Meeks said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “I understand this decision will disappoint and anger my supporters, but I have sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution above myself.”

The remainder of the Iowa delegation is split or not saying what they’ll do.

Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley previously said he had no plans to object himself.

But Tuesday he said “it would be really wrong for me to say I have my mind made up” on how he’d vote. Grassley’s office said he would listen to debate that stems from any objections, and “decide how to cast his vote after he considers all the information before him.”

Grassley, the Senate pro tempore, said he expects Vice President Mike Pence to be present at the joint session of the chambers where the matter first comes up.

If the election results are challenged in the joint session as expected, the House and Senate will convene in their respective chambers and debate. Grassley said he would preside over Senate debate if Pence were not present for it.

A spokesman for Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst said she is “continuing to hear from Iowans on the matter and will be considering all the information before making her decision.”

Democratic 3rd District U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne will support the certification.

Fourth District Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra, also a freshman, is among those asking for a House investigation.

Former 1st District U.S. Rep. Rod Blum also weighed in, calling on Ernst and Grassley to support an investigation because “election fraud is widespread and the types of fraud and irregularities are numerous.”

Courts have “sadly refused to listen to the many claims, and as such, have not availed itself of the opportunity to judge the evidence of the numerous such cases on their merits,” Blum, a Dubuque Republican, wrote, citing many of the same claims Trump has made. “Given this, it is up to the Congress to offer a venue in which a proper, thorough hearing can take place.”

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In their letter, Hinson and her colleagues said they are “outraged at the significant abuses in our election system resulting from the reckless adoption of mail-in ballots and the lack of safeguards maintained to guarantee that only legitimate votes are cast and counted.

“The elections held in at least six battleground states raise profound questions, and it is a legal, constitutional, and moral imperative that they be answered,” they added. However, the role of Congress “is to count the electors submitted by the states, not to determine which electors the states should have sent.”

They also acknowledged that Republican presidential candidates have depended on the Electoral College vote because they have won the popular vote only once since the 1988 election of George H.W. Bush.

“If we perpetuate the notion that Congress may disregard certified electoral votes — based solely on its own assessment that one or more states mishandled the presidential election — we will be delegitimizing the very system that led Donald Trump to victory in 2016, and that could provide the only path to victory in 2024,” they wrote.

In five of the six states at issue, Republicans control the state legislatures. If they believe fraud affected the outcome of the election, they must provide that information to Congress along with certified electoral votes cast by a slate of Trump electors, according to the letter.

“Absent such action, there is not a constitutional role for Congress to change the outcome of any state’s vote,” the House members said.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

Erin Murphy of The Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau contributed.

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