House to vote on resolution to expel George Santos from Congress

Washington — Embattled GOP Rep. George Santos’ future in Congress could be determined Wednesday night when the House is set to vote on a resolution that would expel him from Congress, an effort led by his fellow New York Republicans.

Five GOP lawmakers from the Empire State urged their Republican colleagues to vote in favor of their resolution expelling Santos in a letter circulated on Wednesday, calling it a “moral” issue.

The letter, signed by first-term Reps. Nick LaLota, Anthony D’Esposito, Marcus Molinaro, Brandon Williams and Mike Lawler, addressed concerns about expelling Santos before he’s been criminally convicted, as well as fears that doing so would narrow Republicans’ already slim majority in the House. All five Republicans face competitive races next year.

“We agree it would set a precedent, but a positive one,” the letter said. “Indeed, we should let the American people know if a candidate for Congress lies about everything about himself to get their votes, and then that false identity becomes known by his own admission or otherwise, that House Members will expel the fraudster and give voters a timely opportunity to have proper representation.” 

“These lies were more than just exaggerations like many other politicians make,” it added. “These lies defined George Santos and were the basis for his nomination, election and defrauding donors of millions.” 

Santos has pleaded not guilty to 23 federal charges accusing him of stealing his campaign donors’ identities and racking up thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges on their credit cards, falsifying campaign finance reports, money laundering and other crimes.

In remarks on the House floor, D’Esposito called Santos “a stain on this institution” and said he is “not fit to serve his constituents.” 

Santos responded, saying the expulsion effort is “politically motivated” and that his removal from office would set a “dangerous precedent,” noting that the last expulsion in the House happened after a conviction. Rep. James Traficant was the last member to be expelled in 2002 after being convicted of 10 corruption-related felonies. 

Santos accused those trying to expel him of acting as “judge, jury and executioner.” 

“To my colleagues on the on the other side of the aisle, I’d like to remind you that many of you are supporting another member of Congress who is under investigation, and it’s the second time he is indicted,” Santos said, referencing Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey

“I stand firmly in my innocence,” Santos said. 

The effort to expel Santos

New York GOP Rep. George Santos is seen on the House floor on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.
New York GOP Rep. George Santos is seen on the House floor on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Constitution gives each chamber of Congress the power to expel members with a two-thirds majority vote, meaning nearly 80 Republicans would need to vote with all Democrats to expel Santos for the effort to succeed. Only five representatives have been expelled since 1861. 

The three-page resolution includes roughly a dozen justifications for Santos’ expulsion, including his criminal charges and the series of lies he told about his background before he was elected to Congress in November 2022. “[A]s a result of these actions, George Santos is not fit to serve his constituents as a United States Representative,” it says. The resolution is “privileged,” meaning the House was required to bring it up for a vote soon after its introduction last week.

The House will take up the resolution as part of a series of votes Wednesday evening. The lower chamber will also hold votes on whether to table separate resolutions to censure GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

The five Republicans leading the renewed effort to expel Santos voted against a Democratic push to oust him from Congress in May. The matter was instead referred to the House Ethics Committee, which said Tuesday it would announce its “next course of action” in its investigation by Nov. 17.

Depending on what the committee decides about Santos’ alleged conduct, it could recommend censure, expulsion or other punishments. The House would still have to vote on whether to expel or censure Santos if he is still in Congress at that point. 

“I will not beg for my constitutional rights,” Santos wrote Monday on X. “I will let my colleagues make their decision without my interference.”

Scott MacFarlane contributed reporting. 

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