Updated May 16, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Democrats trigger vote on expelling George Santos from Congress

Rep. George Santos. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

House Democrats on Tuesday offered a privileged resolution to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) from Congress.

Why it matters: The move triggers a vote within the next two days – which would force vulnerable Republicans into the difficult position of whether to protect a politically toxic colleague or break with GOP leadership.

  • Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), who introduced the resolution, did so with support from House Democratic leadership, a Democratic leadership aide told Axios.
  • The resolution, which would need a two-thirds majority to pass, has nearly 50 Democratic co-sponsors, Garcia's office told Axios.

The context: Santos was indicted by the Justice Department last week on counts of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and lying to Congress in his financial disclosures. Santos pleaded not guilty to the charges.

  • In November it was revealed that Santos fabricated details of his work history, personal background and financial status on the campaign trail.

The state of play: Nearly a dozen House Republicans have called for Santos to step down, but only one, Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), has gone as far as to say he should be expelled.

  • So far, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and others in GOP leadership have stood by Santos, whose vote is crucial to their narrow majority.
  • Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who has called for Santos to resign, told Axios, "I haven't read it yet, so I'd want to see what it says ... I'll take a look at it."

What they're saying: "The Republicans in the House are going to have to actually go on record and make a decision about whether they're going to stand for truth and accountability," Garcia told reporters.

  • Garcia said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) has "been aware and involved," adding, "You'll be hearing, I think, more from our leadership – likely tonight, as well as tomorrow."

The other side: McCarthy told reporters he plans to talk with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) about referring the resolution to the House Ethics Committee, which is already investigating Santos.

  • "I’d like the Ethics Committee to move rapidly on this," McCarthy added, predicting the panel will move faster than the courts.
  • Republicans will be able to table or refer the motion with a simple majority — though it would only take five GOP defections for it to move to a final vote.
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