Monday, 22 Apr 2024

House Republicans Stall Effort to Kick George Santos Out of Congress

House Republicans on Wednesday repelled an effort by Democrats to force a vote on expelling Representative George Santos of New York, who was charged last week in a 13-count federal indictment covering wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions, stealing public funds and lying on financial disclosures.

Republicans voted along party line — 221 to 204, with seven Democrats voting “present” — to refer the resolution to expel Mr. Santos to the House Ethics Committee, which has been investigating Mr. Santos’s finances and campaign activity for months.

The measure to expel Mr. Santos, introduced by Representative Robert Garcia, a Democrat of California, was unlikely to succeed in the House, where it would have required a two-thirds supermajority to pass. Republicans hold a majority so thin that Mr. Santos’s vote remains crucial, reducing the political incentive for them to support his ouster.

Indeed, by delaying the vote, House Republicans — including some who have called on Mr. Santos to resign — avoided having to commit to a firm position on his behavior. But their actions also may be construed as a tacit endorsement of Mr. Santos’s remaining in Congress as he faces ethical and legal inquiries.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy has for months deferred action and defended Mr. Santos’s right to his seat, arguing that the House should not punish Mr. Santos without a formal report by the Ethics Committee. But a handful of Republicans, many of them first-term representatives from New York, have for months said that Mr. Santos was unfit to serve and demanded that he resign.

Lies, Charges and Questions Remaining in the George Santos Scandal

George Santos has told so many stories they can be hard to keep straight. We cataloged them, including major questions about his personal finances and his campaign fund-raising and spending.

A vote to expel Mr. Santos threatened to put those New York representatives, most of whom flipped swing districts that will be prime targets for Democrats next year, in a politically thorny position. Voting for Mr. Santos’s expulsion would have put them at odds with their party. But voting against it might have made them appear hypocritical after months of forcefully denouncing Mr. Santos.

That tension was on display when Representative Anthony D’Esposito, the first House Republican to call for Mr. Santos’s resignation, introduced the motion to refer Mr. Santos’s expulsion to the Ethics Committee.

Mr. D’Esposito, who represents a district adjacent to Mr. Santos’s, said that he would have voted to expel Mr. Santos. But since he knew the effort would fall short of the votes it needed, he said, he believed “this is the quickest way of ridding the House of Representatives of this scourge on government.”

After the vote, Mr. Santos, who voted with Republicans, said, “I look forward to seeing the process play out. And if the Ethics Committee finds a reason to remove me, that is the process.”

The timeline for the House Ethics Committee’s investigation remains unclear. The committee did not open its inquiry into Mr. Santos until March, nearly two months after two Democratic lawmakers first requested it do so. It is often criticized by government watchdog groups for moving too slowly.

The criminal case against Mr. Santos could further delay the committee’s work. In past cases when federal prosecutors have brought criminal charges against a representative, the Ethics Committee has deferred its inquiries at the Justice Department’s request.

A spokesman for the Ethics Committee would not say whether it has received such a request regarding its work into Mr. Santos. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Still, Mr. McCarthy on Tuesday said that he wanted the committee to move quickly. “I think they could come back faster than a court case could,” he said.

Mr. Santos, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, is next expected to appear in federal court on Long Island on June 30. He has repeatedly insisted he had no plans to resign and last month announced his intent to run for re-election.

He said on Wednesday that he has been “100 percent compliant” with the Ethics Committee’s investigation, but he has not appeared before them yet. As he spoke, Representative Jamaal Bowman, Democrat of New York, loudly heckled him, urging him to step down.

“You gotta resign, bro,” Mr. Bowman said, extending his thumb in a hit-the-road gesture. “You gotta resign.”

Catie Edmondson contributed reporting from Washington.

Source: Read Full Article

Related Posts