By Jim EllisJan. 4, 2021 — The 117th House of Representatives was called to order yesterday in an unusual Sunday commencement session, and even on the first day the House membership is not complete. The elected body includes 433 members. The NY-22 seat is still undecided, and the LA-5 district is now vacant due to the shocking death of Rep.-Elect Luke Letlow (R).
The vote for Speaker in favor of incumbent Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was 216-209. Two Democrats, Reps. Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Jared Golden (D-ME), did not support Pelosi, voting for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), respectively, while three others voted present. Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), all re-elected with closer than expected margins, only acknowledged their presence in the chamber while responding to the vote for Speaker.
Two members were unable to participate in yesterday’s ceremony. Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach), due to cancer treatments, and fellow Sunshine State Rep.-Elect Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Miami), because of a positive COVID test, were absent for the first session.
Three other seats will soon be vacant. Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Deb Haaland (D-NM) have all been appointed to or nominated for positions in the Biden Administration.
Rep. Richmond will resign on Jan. 20 to run the White House Office of Public Engagement. This position does not require Senate confirmation. Reps. Fudge and Haaland must receive Senate confirmation for their nominations as secretaries of Housing and Urban Development and Interior, respectively. They will resign from the House upon receiving such approval for their new positions.
The NY-22 election is still undecided, now two full months after Election Day, and it may still be some time before the winner is actually determined. As the counties are finally finishing their vote totals after Justice of the Oswego County Supreme Court Scott DelConte ordered seven of the eight local entities to review and properly submit the challenged ballots to the court. Justice DelConte ruled that the seven counties failed to adhere to New York election law in processing and accounting for the challenged ballots.
The totals continue to fluctuate, as Tenney has seen her 12-vote lead swell to 29, before her fortunes changed to trailing by 14 tallies. Perhaps more importantly, DelConte has been ruling in favor of Rep. Anthony Brindisi’s (D-Utica) challenges, which could be a prelude to the final outcome. More than 2,000 ballots were contested by the competing parties.