Dec 4, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Santos-inspired bill would ban pensions for expelled lawmakers

Former Rep. George Santos. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A House Republican on Monday introduced legislation barring lawmakers who are expelled from Congress from receiving congressional pensions.

Why it matters: It's a direct response to the House's expulsion last week of then-Rep. George Santos, who was accused of plundering his congressional campaign coffers to personally enrich himself.

Driving the news: Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Iowa) announced the Congressional Pension Accountability Act at a press conference on Monday morning.

  • Nunn was among the more than 100 Republicans who voted to expel Santos following the release of a bombshell House Ethics Committee report.
  • Among the allegations in the report was that Santos used campaign funds for personal expenses, including hotel fees, luxury goods and cosmetics.

What he's saying: "No one should be serving in Congress, be excommunicated and removed from Congress, and still be able to draw a pension," Nunn told reporters.

  • "A pension is earned for honorable service," Nunn continued. "When you're removed from office ... you should not be able to continue to cash in on the American taxpayer's dime."

Yes, but: Santos himself isn't eligible for a congressional pension, having served less than a year in office.

  • Members of Congress are generally eligible for a pension if they've served for five or more years, according to the Congressional Research Service.
  • Still, Nunn said he wants to create a "clear road map" for future cases and noted that prior federal service can count towards a lawmaker's eligibility.

The big picture: This isn't the first such bill Santos has inspired.

  • A group of New York Republicans who were some of Santos' fiercest detractors in the GOP introduced a bill to prohibit members of Congress convicted of certain crimes from profiting off book deals, speeches and other common post-congressional income streams.

What we're watching: Nunn added to a chorus of Republicans saying Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) should be next to go.

  • Menendez has been federally indicted for allegedly accepting bribes and conspiring to act as a foreign agent on behalf of Egypt. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
  • Nunn called for a Senate Ethics Committee probe to "determine whether [Menendez] should remain in office."
  • "I think the overwhelming facts before us indicate that both of these individuals should be removed," Nunn added.
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