House to consider Democratic resolution to expel George Santos from Congress

House to consider Democratic resolution to expel George Santos from Congress

Washington — The House will take up a Democratic-backed resolution on Wednesday that would expel GOP Rep. George Santos from Congress, but Republicans are expected to block its passage by referring the bill to a committee that’s already investigating him.

Democratic Rep. Robert Garcia of California introduced the expulsion resolution on Tuesday as “privileged,” meaning it must be considered within two days under House rules. However, GOP leaders can call a vote to either table the resolution or refer it to the House Ethics Committee, which opened a formal probe into Santos in March.

A vote to table or refer would require a simple majority. Expelling a member, however, requires the support of two thirds of the House, meaning dozens of GOP members would need to side with Democrats to successfully expel Santos. Only five House members have been expelled in U.S. history.

Santos faces federal charges of fraud, money laundering and other crimes, with prosecutors alleging he pocketed thousands of dollars of campaign contributions and fraudulently collected unemployment benefits. The New York Republican, who lied about numerous aspects of his background in his pursuit of his congressional seat, pleaded not guilty and recently announced he will run for reelection next year.

When asked Tuesday whether he supported the resolution or would move to block it, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he wanted the Ethics Committee to “move rapidly on this.”

“We can look at this very quickly and come to a conclusion on what George Santos did and did not do through Ethics — a safe, bipartisan committee, equal number of Republicans and Democrats,” he told reporters. “I think they can come back to Congress probably faster than a court case could.”

The move would give vulnerable Republicans cover from being forced to go on the record over whether the indicted New York congressman should keep his seat. Republicans hold a slim four-seat majority in the House.

House Democrats called the maneuver a “cop out.” Democratic Rep. Dan Goldman of New York, a former federal prosecutor, said he expects the Justice Department will ask the Ethics Committee to pause its inquiry while Santos is prosecuted.

“That is the nature of how these things work,” Goldman said. “And traditionally, the Ethics Committee will defer to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.”

Goldman said the referral was an effort by McCarthy “to keep an extra vote for his legislation because he has such a narrow majority.” Santos represents a district that President Biden won in the 2020 election.

“We all know that Rep. George Santos is a liar and a fraud and should be expelled from Congress,” Garcia, who introduced the resolution, said Wednesday. “Republicans in the House now have an opportunity to stand with the American public and their constituents, or to stand with someone who has been indicted on 13 counts.”

Santos told CBS News on Tuesday that House Democrats “are really good at trying to play judge and jury and trying to hold people guilty before they’ve even been given a free shot at a trial.” He said was “confident that justice is blind and that it is not biased like Robert Garcia is.”

McCarthy has said he would ask Santos to step down if found guilty and that he will not support his reelection campaign.

Ellis Kim and Nikole Killion contributed reporting.

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