The House of Representatives on Wednesday evening rejected a measure aimed at expelling embattled Republican Representative George Santos from Congress.
Santos, whose tenure has been marred by a litany of controversies, including facing 23 felony charges and widespread criticism from lawmakers across party lines, especially within his home state, narrowly survived the expulsion attempt.
The measure required the support of two-thirds of the chamber to pass, but it fell far short with a vote of 179-213, including 19 abstentions. The motion to expel Santos was introduced by a group of his fellow freshman GOP congressmen from New York, who urged their fellow Republicans to support it in passionate speeches on the House floor and a letter to all members of the House GOP conference.
Representative Anthony D’Esposito, a Republican from New York, asserted, “Unfortunately, we learned very early into Mr. Santos’ term that he was elected under false pretenses, which made it clear that he cannot represent the great constituents of Nassau County and across the country.” D’Esposito was joined by Representatives Nick LaLota and Mike Lawler, also New York freshman Republicans, in denouncing Santos for his alleged lies and deceptions regarding various aspects of his life.
Santos defended himself during the debate, denying culpability in the criminal charges against him and accusing his fellow Republicans of playing politics and fundraising off his situation. Notably, no Republican spoke in Santos’ defense.
The embattled congressman is currently facing 23 felony charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds. Prosecutors have accused him of stealing money from campaign donors and identities from family members, as well as misleading federal election officials and fabricating a $500,000 loan, among other alleged schemes. Santos has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The group of New York Republicans who introduced the expulsion measure represents swing districts in New York, won by President Joe Biden in 2020. Santos’ legal troubles could complicate their paths to reelection, as well as the Republicans’ prospects of maintaining their majority in the House.
In this case, Santos may have been saved by the Republicans’ slim majority, as a two-thirds majority was required to expel a member of Congress. The House’s new Speaker, Mike Johnson, has indicated that the chamber should wait for the results of Santos’ criminal trial before taking further action.
Despite the lack of support for expulsion, Santos’ legal troubles and controversies continue to cast a shadow over his political future. The House Ethics Committee has also launched an investigation into his conduct, with an announcement regarding the next steps expected on or before November 17.
The debate surrounding Santos’ expulsion has highlighted deep divisions within the Republican Party, with some members advocating for accountability and others concerned about the potential impact on their majority in the House.
The saga involving George Santos remains a focal point of attention in the political landscape, with implications that reach far beyond his congressional district.