Every House Republican yesterday voted to block a vote on a resolution to expel out Rep. George Santos (R-NY).
Three gay Democratic members of Congress introduced the resolution. Despite it being dropped, two congressmembers from Santos’s state – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) – heckled Santos on the steps of the Capitol.
“Resign!” the two shouted at him as he talked to the press. “Resign bro! Get him out! Have some dignity.”
Later Bowman and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) got into an argument and Ocasio-Cortez had to pull Bowman away.
“She ain’t worth it, bro,” she said.
The measure was referred to the House Ethics Committee in a 221-204 vote along party lines, with every Republican voting on the pro-Santos side and only Democrats voting on the anti-Santos side, with seven Democrats voting present.
Santos still faces 13 federal criminal charges that could get him sent to prison for over a century if convicted.
On Tuesday, out Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA) – along with lead cosponsors and out Reps. Becca Balint (D-VT) and Eric Sorensen (D-IL) – introduced a privileged resolution to expel Santos, who has been caught lying about numerous parts of his background and accused of a variety of crimes and is now facing federal charges.
“Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Clause 2A1 of Rule 9, I rise to give notice of my intent to raise a question of the privileges of the House,” Garcia said. He introduced a resolution that “George Santos be and hereby is expelled from the House of Representatives.”
Republicans, though, control the House narrowly and a vote to expel Santos would require a two-thirds majority, meaning that a substantial number of Republicans would have to support expelling Santos for him to be forced out. And Republicans need his reliably conservative vote in the House because of their four-seat majority over Democrats.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on Tuesday that he wants the House Ethics Committee to “move rapidly on this.”
Santos himself was pleased that the measure failed.
“I look forward to seeing the process play out, and if the Ethics Committee finds a reason to remove me, that is the process,” he said last night. He was one of the Republicans who voted to send the measure to committee. “I look forward to continuing to defend myself. Again, innocent until proven guilty.”
Democrats, though, said that the move was a “cop out.”
“We all know that Rep. George Santos is a liar and a fraud and should be expelled from Congress,” Garcia said. “Republicans in the House now have an opportunity to stand with the American public and their constituents, or to stand with someone who has been indicted on 13 counts.”
Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) told CBS News that the Justice Department will probably ask the Ethics Committee to pause its inquiry as they prosecute their case against Santos in federal court, meaning that it may be a while before the Ethics Committee examines Garcia’s resolution.
“So, despite my colleagues’ statements to the contrary, there will be nothing quick about the Ethics process,” Goldman said in a floor speech. “This motion today was therefore simply a way for Republicans to continue to cover for Mr. Santos. Many have called for his removal, especially freshman Republican members from New York, but when finally given an opportunity to walk the talk, they instead sat with Mr. Santos.”
Santos was elected to the House in the 2022 midterms. About a month after the election, multiple news reports showed that he had either fabricated or couldn’t corroborate large parts of his life story, including his education, job, and family histories. He was also accused by many people who knew him of stealing and committing acts of fraud – and he faced prosecution in Brazil (which he confessed to and agreed to pay fines and restitution).
Last week, he surrendered to federal authorities in New York and is now facing 13 federal criminal charges related to alleged unemployment and campaign finance fraud. This includes allegedly filing for unemployment benefits while he had a job that paid $120,000 a year and collecting $24,744 in benefits; allegedly running an LLC that he told campaign donors to give money to and then spending the money on luxury clothes; and allegedly not properly declaring income on financial disclosure forms.
He posted $500,000 bail before taking questions from reporters outside the courthouse and called the case against him a “witch hunt.” If convicted, he could be sentenced to 140 years in prison on seven wire fraud charges alone.
Republicans have stood by him, saying that they are waiting for the results of his trial, which might not be finished before his first term is over.
“Certainly there are questions and there’s an investigation and people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law when they break the law,” House GOP Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said. “And in this case, there are investigations that are pending, and it’s not the first time I’ve served with colleagues in Congress who have been under investigation.”