Jones might not be sworn into Congress until after Thanksgiving

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
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Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones     launched a last-minute write-in campaign for Michigan's 13th Congressional District seat.

Washington — House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday will swear in new members elected to finish out the last weeks of the current session of Congress, but Detroit's Brenda Jones won't be among them. 

Jones, president of Detroit City Council, last week won a special election to complete the unexpired term of former U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, through the end of the year. The results are unofficial until certified by a county canvassing board and the State Board of Canvassers.

Jones is expected to serve only a few weeks in the U.S. House after losing a separate election to former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib to replace Conyers for a full term.

Jones said Tuesday she doesn't know yet when she will be sworn into office. 

"I am waiting for the clerk's office to give me a call. They are awaiting documents from the Secretary of State of Michigan," she said.

"Once they receive the unofficial results, they will call me back with dates and directions and instructions. They have not received the unofficial results yet." 

Michigan's Board of State Canvassers isn't expected to certify election results until after Thanksgiving, said a spokesman for the state Elections Bureau.

Ryan's office said, while it doesn't yet have the required paperwork on election results from Michigan, it does have what it needs from Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and New York for the three members-elect being sworn into office Tuesday evening. 

"We don’t have the necessary certification yet," Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said Tuesday about Jones.

"We’re also still evaluating other complicating factors including her holding two elected positions."

Jones has indicated no plans to step down from her city post before taking up Conyers' former seat representing Michigan's 13th District. 

Ryan's office has said there's no precedent for an individual to serve in the U.S. House while holding a local elected office.

In recent decades, incoming House members have resigned from incompatible offices — such as the president of a city council — rather than force the House to litigate the issue, a senior House aide said last month.

House leaders are also awaiting final results in Pennsylvania's 15th District to learn who will serve the final weeks of a term vacated by U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican who resigned this year. 

That district will go away in January when Pennsylvania's new court-ordered congressional map goes into effect. 

Jones led a meeting of City Council in Detroit on Tuesday while other members-elect turned out in Washington for the start of their orientation.

Jonathan Kinloch, chairman of the 13th District Democratic Party, said last week “it’s not a hidden fact” that Jones intends to serve in Congress and return to her role in Detroit.

Kinloch noted that Detroit’s council will be in winter recess during the weeks that Jones would serve in Congress. 

The seat in the 13th District, which includes parts of Detroit and Wayne County, has been vacant for more than 11 months since Conyers resigned in December. 

Tlaib last week raised concerns about ensuring a smooth transition of power

"If you’re there, let’s make sure we’re working together so when you’re done with those six to seven weeks I’m able to come in smoothly, and there’s no interruptions in terms of people getting services," Tlaib said. 

Staff Writer Christine Ferretti contributed 

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