Democrats who wanted to quickly remove Santos from the House suffered a setback when the House voted 221-204 to forward the motion to the Ethics Committee. Democrats reportedly demanded that at least 77 Republicans back his ousting in order to pass the legislation with a two-thirds majority, which is unlikely to happen in the GOP-controlled chamber.
Instead, House Republicans introduced a motion that only needed a simple majority to pass to take the matter to the ethics committee. Republicans abstained from voting against the resolution, giving it the majority of votes it needed to move forward.
The five Democratic members of the ethics committee—Reps. Susan Wild (D-PA), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Deborah Ross (D-NC) and Glenn Ivey (D-MD) broke ranks with their party to vote present on The law project. Representatives Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) also voted.
After Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA) introduced a preferred resolution to expel the rookie congressman Tuesday afternoon, a procedural vote was needed to force lawmakers to act on the issue within the next two days. That is why the vote is taking place now. Garcia previously offered a similar proposal to oust Santos in January, but the Republican majority effectively blocked it.
The Justice Department’s criminal indictment of Santos this week prompted Garcia to resuscitate those attempts, forcing Republicans to either follow through on their threats to censure the freshman congressman for his alleged misconduct or to uphold their small majority.
Garcia said Wednesday that the New York delegate “clearly has no interest in the public good.” “We should at this point take this matter to the Ethics Committee. There is already a resolution on this. All Republicans should now stand up and join us in defending this body and eliminating George Santos.
The vote also comes on the heels of calls for Santos to step down in recent weeks from a number of New York Republicans, who were instrumental in helping their party win a House majority by unseating a number of seats in the midterm elections. Representatives Marc Molinaro, Anthony D’Esposito, Brandon Williams, Nick LaLota and Mike Lawler are on this list.
Last Monday, Molinaro told the Washington Examiner that the individual was “delusional.” In December, I declared it. I said it in January. I will say one more. He shouldn’t represent us in Congress.
However, rather than suspend Santos immediately, the six vulnerable Republicans agreed to refer the matter to the ethics committee.
Several other House Republicans, including Representatives Nancy Mace (R-SC), Tony Gonzales (R-TX) and Max Miller (R-OH), have demanded Santos’ resignation over the past month. All three decided that the ethics committee should look into the situation.
In the coming weeks, Democrats could use the decision to postpone the Santos expulsion vote as a political tool, especially against Republican candidates running in strongholds that Joe Biden won in 2020.
Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) said “Republicans, especially members of the Republican Party in New York, where I’m from and where George Santos is from, have called for his expulsion”. “They now have the opportunity to act on their statements and vote accordingly. However, it appears that they are avoiding the vote in other ways.
Although McCarthy has made it clear that he wants the committee to speed up the process, the timeline for an ethics investigation is unclear. In addition, he said that, based on the results of the committee’s investigation, he would not wait for the outcome of court proceedings before taking action in Congress.
McCarthy said: “He’s been charged, but he still has the process. “I don’t want to wait for the courts to act. What I would like to see is action by the House and a process in place.
The DOJ charged the New York Republican with 13 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and lying to Congress last week, prompting the DOJ to decide to fire Santos . Santos pleaded not guilty and criticized the charges as politically motivated.
Santos said in a statement that “justice is blind in our country, and everyone is innocent until proven guilty.” Representative Garcia and the Democrats are acting, unfortunately, as [biased] judge and jury. By kicking me out, 700,000 people would lose their votes in addition to the 145,000+ voters who nominated me here to represent them.
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