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At least three New York GOP House members who previously called on indicted Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) to resign will help delay a vote to immediately expel him from the House, as Democrats are expected to push for a vote as soon as Wednesday.
Democrats on Tuesday filed what’s known as a “privileged resolution” to expel Santos, requiring the House to vote on the measure within two days.
But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he will instead bring a motion to refer the resolution to the House Ethics Committee, which opened an investigation into Santos’ conduct in March, months before he was indicted on federal fraud and money laundering charges last week.
McCarthy said previously he would call on Santos to resign if the House Ethics Committee found him guilty of wrongdoing, and urged the panel on Tuesday to “move rapidly” in its investigation, while predicting the process will play out faster than his federal court case.
Reps. Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.), Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) and Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), who previously called on Santos to step down, said Wednesday they will support McCarthy’s move, indicating Democrats will not have the five Republican votes they need to bring the resolution to the floor for a formal vote.
Molinaro, who said previously he supported efforts to expel Santos, told a Politico reporter moving the resolution to the Ethics Committee “will get George Santos out of Congress as quickly as possible,” while Williams told Axios Santos’ “days are numbered in the House” but “the rule of law and due process are cornerstones of our society.”
Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), who introduced the resolution to expel Santos, urged the GOP to “do the right thing and not allow this just to go to the House Ethics Committee” in an interview with MSNBC Wednesday. Santos “has absolutely no business in Congress,” he said.
Lawler, Williams and Molinaro are among the six New York freshman GOP House members who previously called for Santos’ resignation from Congress. At least three of the six—Molinaro and Reps. Nick LaLota and Anthony D’Esposito—said prior to Santos’ indictment they support expelling him, though it’s unclear how LaLota and D’Esposito plan to vote on Garcia’s measure. Other New York Republicans, including Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, have said Santos’ fate should be determined once his court case plays out.
What To Watch For
While Democrats could force a vote on expelling Santos with just a simple majority of House members, passing the resolution and removing Santos from Congress requires support from two-thirds of the House. Republicans hold a slim 213-222 majority and could risk losing a seat if Santos is expelled or resigns. Already, five candidates, including just one Republican, have announced plans to run for Santos’ seat. His opponent in the 2022 midterm election—when Santos flipped a previously held Democratic seat on Long Island—Robert Zimmerman (D), is also weighing a run. So is former congressman and gubernatorial candidate Tom Suozzi (D), CNBC reported, citing people familiar with his thinking.
What We Don’t Know
Whether the Justice Department will ask the Ethics Committee to table its Santos probe while his federal court case plays out, as it has done with previous overlapping investigations. McCarthy told CNN Wednesday he would urge the panel to move forward despite any request from the DOJ.
Former Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio) was the last congressman—and only the second since the Civil War—expelled from Congress after he was convicted of bribery and racketeering in 2002.
Santos pleaded not guilty last week in New York federal court to 13 federal charges, including unemployment fraud, unauthorized use of campaign finance funds and lying on his personal financial disclosure forms. The indictment accuses him of claiming unemployment benefits despite earning a $120,000 salary at an investment firm. Prosecutors also allege Santos defrauded donors by directing their contributions to a Florida-based LLC he used to pay for personal expenses, including designer clothes and credit card debt. The indictment followed an elaborate lying scandal in which Santos admitted to falsifying significant portions of his resume and personal background—a series of fabrications that weren’t part of the criminal case against him but led some Republicans to call for his resignation. Santos has denied the federal charges and blasted the investigation as a “witch hunt,” echoing former President Donald Trump’s preferred rhetoric to describe the various investigations into his own conduct.
Democrats Push To Expel George Santos From Congress (Forbes)
Another Republican Wants George Santos Expelled From Congress—But Speaker McCarthy Still Refuses (Forbes)
Will Santos Be Expelled From Congress? Here Are The Republicans Who Want Him Kicked Out (Forbes)