Pelosi eyes possible U.S. House role in calling presidential election

By David Morgan



Nancy Pelosi wearing a purple shirt: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill


© Reuters/ALEXANDER DRAGO
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rallying Democrats to prepare for a once-in-a-century election scenario requiring Congress to decide the outcome of the presidential race if neither Democrat Joe Biden nor President Donald Trump wins outright.

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In a campaign letter to colleagues, Pelosi told her fellow House Democrats that recent comments by Trump demonstrate that he could ask the House to decide the race if it is not clear which of the two candidates had received the minimum 270 Electoral College votes in the Nov. 3 presidential election needed to gain office.

Trump repeatedly has questioned the security of mail-in ballots, which could take a while to tabulate given the high number of voters likely to use them this year due to the pandemic.

Democrats fear that the president could attempt to have the count of those votes cut short in an attempt to have the election outcome determined by the House. 

Under the U.S. Constitution, the House would vote by state delegation to settle such a contest, with each state casting a single vote. While Democrats control the chamber by 232 seats to 198, Republicans control a majority of 26 state delegations versus 22 for Democrats. Pennsylvania’s delegation is tied, while Michigan has a 7-6 split between Democrats and Republicans and an additional seat held by a Libertarian.

The House has not determined the outcome of a presidential election since 1876.

Pelosi called on Democrats for “an all out effort” to capture additional Republican-held House seats, which they might need if a decision on the presidential election spills over into next year. She also urged Democrats to marshal resources to support the House Majority PAC, a political action committee committed to promoting Democratic candidates for the House.

“Because we cannot leave anything to chance, House Majority PAC is doing everything it can to win more delegations for Democrats,” Pelosi wrote.

Representative Liz Cheney, who leads the House Republican Conference, responded to Pelosi’s letter by saying the speaker was trying to divert attention away from the lack of progress on COVID-19 stimulus legislation.

“It’s a dereliction of her duty as speaker, so it’s no surprise she is trying to get her caucus focused on something else,” Cheney said in a statement to Reuters.

The Democratic-controlled House passed a $3.4 trillion coronavirus aid package in May that went nowhere in the Republican-led Senate. Negotiations between Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and administration officials, aimed at hammering out a bipartisan deal, have been stalled since early August.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Susan Heavey; editing by Richard Cowan, Alistair Bell and Bill Berkrot)

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House panel slams Boeing, FAA for 737 Max crashes while calling for reforms

A House committee issued a scathing report Wednesday questioning whether Boeing and government regulators have recognized problems that caused two deadly 737 Max jet crashes and whether either will be willing to make significant changes to fix them.

Staff members from the Democrat-controlled Transportation Committee blamed the crashes that killed 346 people on the “horrific culmination” of failed government oversight, design flaws and a lack of action at Boeing despite knowing about problems.

The committee identified deficiencies in the Federal Aviation Administration approval process for new jetliners. But the agency and Boeing have said certification of the Max complied with FAA regulations, the 246-page report said.

“The fact that a compliant airplane suffered from two deadly crashes in less than five months is clear evidence that the current regulatory system is fundamentally flawed and needs to be repaired,” the staff wrote in the report released early Wednesday.

The report highlights the need for legislation to fix the approval process and deal with the FAA’s delegation of some oversight tasks to aircraft manufacturer employees, said Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon.

“Obviously the system is inadequate,” DeFazio said. “We will be adopting significant reforms.”

He wouldn’t give details, saying committee leaders are in talks with Republicans about legislation. He said the committee won’t scrap the delegation program, and he hopes to reach agreement on reforms before year’s end.

A Senate committee on Wednesday could make changes to a bipartisan bill giving the FAA more control over picking company employees who sign off on safety decisions. One improvement may be that a plane with significant changes from previous models would need more FAA review.

The House report stems from an 18-month investigation into the October 2018 crash of Lion Air flight 610 in Indonesia and the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in March of 2019. The Max was grounded worldwide shortly after the Ethiopia crash. Regulators are testing planes with revamped flight control software, and Boeing hopes to get the Max flying again late this year or early in 2021.

Relatives of people who died in the crashes said the report exposes the truth.

“It was an unforgivable crime, and Boeing still wants to return the aircraft to service quickly,” said Ababu Amha, whose wife was a flight attendant on the Ethiopia Airlines jet. “All those responsible for the accident should pay the price for their actions.”

Paul Njoroge of Toronto, whose wife, three young children and mother-in-law died in the Ethiopia crash while traveling to Kenya to see grandparents, said the report revealed Boeing’s culture of putting profit ahead of safety.

“There are instances in the report where some employees within Boeing tried to raise safety concern issues. But their concerns would be slammed by people within Boeing,” said Njoroge, who is among those suing the company. “This is an organization that should focus more on delivering safe planes.”

Eighteen months after the crash, Njoroge said he still relies on support from others. “It just doesn’t go away. It never leaves

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Steps from the White House, murals calling for justice take the place of stained glass

Before the pandemic, 18-year-old Senia Cade had always thought of herself as “some kid who paints in her room when she’s bored.” But when COVID-19 cancelled the Fort Washington, Maryland, student’s prom and graduation dreams, painting helped her vent frustration.



Levi Robinson paints a mural of Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the boarded-up windows of St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. Robinson was among a group of artists creating vibrant messages of peace, love, and unity while advocating for racial justice at the historic church one block from the White House.


© Photograph by Cheriss May, Reuters

Levi Robinson paints a mural of Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the boarded-up windows of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. Robinson was among a group of artists creating vibrant messages of peace, love, and unity while advocating for racial justice at the historic church one block from the White House.


In a summer defined by the twin traumas of COVID-19 and racial reckoning, it was not long before Cade connected her artistic efforts with swelling protests over violent threats to Black Americans’ lives.

“I can use a paintbrush to send a powerful message,” said Cade, slathering a base coat of royal blue paint onto a four-by-four-foot plywood board covering a stained-glass window at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. She was laying the foundation for an image that would promote racial unity and harmony. Cade was also creating what would be only her second piece of public art at one of the nation’s most famous churches.

On September 5, Cade was the youngest of 16 artists who spent the day on ladders and scaffolding, creating vibrant messages of peace, love, and unity on the window boards of the historic church a block from the White House. The project was one in a series of public exhibitions produced by the PAINTS Institute, which its founder characterizes as a “mural march” of artistic activism. The artists say their work amplifies solutions to ongoing strife.



a person standing in a room: Senia Cade paints a mural in support of racial justice on the boarded-up windows of St. John's Episcopal Church on September 5, 2020. “We’re all shades of the same color,” Cade said. “I think it’s really important to remember that this movement is for Black lives, but it needs to be contributed to by everyone.”


© Photograph by Cheriss May, Reuters

Senia Cade paints a mural in support of racial justice on the boarded-up windows of St. John’s Episcopal Church on September 5, 2020. “We’re all shades of the same color,” Cade said. “I think it’s really important to remember that this movement is for Black lives, but it needs to be contributed to by everyone.”


The location of St. John’s Church—at the doorstep of the massive Black Lives Matter mural painted on 16th Street, N.W.—places it at the heart of ongoing protests that have occurred since the death of George Floyd on May 23; an African American man, Floyd died as killed by a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

When demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice flooded nearby Lafayette Square and the streets beside the 204-year-old church—and after a fire was set in the adjacent parish house—12-foot metal fences were erected around the church property to prevent access by demonstrators.

As the Reverend Rob Fisher, St. John’s Rector, juggles producing virtual worship services with monitoring demonstrations, he hopes the mural project will send a definitive message. “One of the blessings of coronavirus [is that] it’s helping people to concentrate on what really matters the most. I hope the messages of love and peace and unity

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