George Santos Expelled From Congress in Bipartisan Vote – George Santos, a New York Republican known for his fabrication and facing fraud accusations, has been ousted from Congress. The decision, the second expulsion since his election the previous year, mandated a two-thirds majority among those in attendance, resulting in a final vote of 311-114 on Friday.
Santos now joins an exclusive group as only the sixth member ever expelled from the US House. The initial three were Confederate fighters during the Civil War, while the remaining two faced expulsion following criminal convictions. Despite pleading not guilty to 23 federal fraud charges and awaiting trial, a prior expulsion endeavor by his own party faltered.
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With some senior Democrats opposing it, highlighting concerns about expelling members without secured convictions. However, a House ethics committee report, exposing Santos’ use of campaign funds for various personal expenses such as travel, cosmetic treatments, and luxury items, altered the political landscape. Both Democrats and Republicans presented motions for an expulsion vote this week.
Despite Republican Speaker Mike Johnson urging Santos to resign, an offer Santos declined, the final vote saw Johnson and other senior Republicans abstaining from expulsion. Johnson refrained from rallying his party in favor of expulsion as well. Of the Republicans, 112 out of 222 voted against expulsion, while five abstained, and 105 supported the motion. Johnson assumed control to declare the final vote count.
Santos, who stood with his coat draped around his shoulders throughout the vote, promptly exited the chamber. Sharon Eliza Nichols, communications director for Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Democratic member for the District of Columbia, alluded to Cinderella when she said: “And just like that, without even a goodbye twirl, George Santos hopped in her carriage and departed.”
However, he has displayed no inclination to exit without a commotion. On Thursday, vehemently opposing the imminent vote, Santos criticized fellow members. He even initiated an expulsion resolution against Jamaal Bowman, a New York Democrat who acknowledged triggering a fire alarm in a congressional office building (a misdemeanor). Santos’s district, encompassing Long Island and Queens, is now required to conduct a special election within 90 days.
Santos secured the seat as part of a “red wave” for New York Republicans in last year’s midterm elections, contributing significantly to the Democrats losing control of the House. However, as scrutiny from the press intensified, Santos’s credentials quickly unraveled, revealing alleged criminal behavior in both Brazil and the US.
Amid a slew of increasingly peculiar narratives, including Santos’s past as a drag performer in Brazil and a false claim of being a volleyball star at an unattended college, he admitted to embellishing his record but vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Gaining notoriety, he aligned himself with Republican extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, a prominent ally of Trump.
From January to October, Kevin McCarthy, the speaker, refrained from decisive action beyond revoking committee assignments. This reluctance was largely due to the GOP’s narrow control of the House, and Santos’s support through 15 votes for the speaker role. In an unprecedented move in October, when the far right ousted McCarthy as the speaker, Santos abstained from voting for the change.
Democrats are now aiming to reclaim Santos’s seat in hopes of further diminishing the Republican majority. In a statement on Friday, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or Crew, said: “George Santos’s pattern of unethical and illegal conduct is shocking and continues to escalate. Expulsion from Congress was appropriate and overdue.”
“He should have resigned and saved Congress all this trouble. Now he’ll be remembered as only the third member of Congress since the civil war to be expelled.” Adav Noti, legal director for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said the expulsion of Santos showed that “no one is above the law”, and “the power and potential of ethics enforcement.