Dec 1, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Rep. George Santos expelled from Congress in historic vote

Rep. George Santos. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images.

The House on Friday voted to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) over his many fabrications on the 2022 campaign trail and his two federal indictments.

Why it matters: The vote makes Santos just the sixth lawmaker – and first Republican – to be expelled from the House in U.S. history.

Driving the news: The resolution, led by House Ethics Committee Chair Michael Guest, passed 311-114.

  • The measure required a 2/3 majority to pass.
  • Reps. Jonathan Jackson (D-Ill.) and Al Green (D-Texas) voted "present," and Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) voted against the measure.
  • The result came even after most of House Republican leadership turned against expelling Santos, prompting doubts about whether enough Republicans would vote for expulsion.

Between the lines: "There are a number of people who were being pressed upon by some in leadership, and kind of just said, 'yeah, I'm with you,' and then ultimately weren't," said one House Republican.

  • "As one member said to me: He is a disgusting human being, and he shouldn't be here," the Republican added.

What they're saying: The New York Republicans who led the effort to expel Santos projected somberness in the aftermath of the vote.

  • "Look, nobody takes any joy in this," said Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.). "This is obviously a somewhat historic moment, unprecedented. And that is the election of George Santos in a nutshell."
  • Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), the top Democrat on the House Ethics Committee, said she was "rather shocked" that GOP leadership whipped against the measure.
  • "I just have to say, I think that it's really disrespectful towards the Republicans on the Ethics Committee," Wild added. "I think it's disrespectful of the New York members."

The other side: Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), who opposed expulsion, told Axios the vote was "a mockery of this institution."

  • "Every member is afforded the right to have their day in court like every citizen of the United States," Donalds said, also arguing the vote overturns the will of Santos' voters.

The backdrop: A New York Times report last December revealed that Santos had lied about key elements of his resume as a candidate, including claims that he graduated from Baruch College and New York University, and worked at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

  • The last straw for many lawmakers was the Ethics Committee report, which detailed "substantial evidence" of "uncharged and unlawful conduct" including allegedly stealing from his 2022 campaign.

State of play: Members of both parties, including local GOP leaders in New York and some of Santos' House Republican colleagues from the state, called for his resignation shortly after he was sworn in earlier this year.

  • House Democrats forced a vote on expelling Santos in May, but Republicans voted to kill the measure by referring to the Ethics Committee, arguing Santos deserved due process.
  • Santos' second indictment, and the explosive evidence it contained, spurred a group of New York Republicans to revive the push to expel him, but it failed after most Republicans and dozens of Democrats voted against it, again advocating for the Ethics probe to play out.
  • The Ethics Committee report prompted many lawmakers who opposed previous expulsion efforts to throw their support behind removing Santos, saying he had now received his due process.

What's next: Santos' seat will now be filled by special election, in which each nominee will be chosen by their respective local party committees.

Editor's note: This article has been updated.

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