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221 House Republicans vote to block expulsion of scandal-plagued Rep. George Santos

A federal grand jury indicted Santos on 13 criminal charges on May 10.

By Josh Israel - May 18, 2023
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George Santos
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., speaks to reporters outside after an effort to expel him from the House, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 17, 2023. The freshman congressman has been charged with embezzling money from his campaign, falsely receiving unemployment funds and lying to Congress about his finances. He has denied the charges and has pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republican lawmakers blocked a resolution on Wednesday to expel Rep. George Santos (R-NY) from the House of Representatives. Santos, who was indicted on May 10 by a federal grand jury on 13 criminal charges, and 220 of his Republican colleagues instead voted to refer the matter to the House Committee on Ethics, which has been investigating him since late February.

Their motion to refer the resolution to the Ethics Committee prevailed along party lines, 221-204, with seven Democratic representatives voting present.

Santos won an open House seat last November by a vote of 53.8%-46.2% and was later revealed to have fabricated much of his resume and repeatedly lied about details of his life and experiences.  

Santos was arrested and indicted on charges that included allegations of fraudulently taking unemployment insurance funds intended for those who were out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, wire fraud, money laundering, and lying to Congress.

In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said: “Taken together, the allegations in the indictment charge Santos with relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself. He used political contributions to line his pockets, unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and lied to the House of Representatives.”

Santos pleaded not guilty and was released on a $500,000 bond.

In the wake of the indictment, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has refused to push Santos to resign, telling reporters, “In America, you’re innocent until proven guilty.”

Appearing virtually, Santos admitted on May 11 to a Brazilian court that he had stolen checks and lied about his identity in 2008 and spent $700 of the stolen money at a shop in Niterói, Brazil. He agreed to pay thousands of dollars in fines and restitution. 

Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA) and 48 other House Democrats filed the resolution to expel Santos. On Tuesday, Garcia announced he would force a floor vote on it, saying: “George Santos is a fraud and a liar, and he needs to be expelled by the House. News that federal prosecutors are filing 13 criminal charges against George Santos should have been the final straw for Kevin McCarthy, but he refuses to act. Republicans now have a chance to demonstrate to Americans that an admitted criminal should not serve in the House of Representatives.”

McCarthy again protected Santos, directing his caucus to block the resolution by sending it to the Ethics Committee. “I think 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,” the California Republican told reporters on Tuesday. “I would like the Ethics Committee to move rapidly on this.”

These sorts of investigations typically take months. Additionally, the Justice Department has asked the Ethics Committee to delay its investigation pending the federal case, though sources reportedly told Punchbowl News on Thursday that the committee has refused to comply.

In a since-deleted tweet sent Tuesday afternoon, Santos legislative aide Rafaello Carone urged the party to block expulsion.

“I want to remind @HouseGOP that without Santos’s vote, there’d be no debt ceiling negotiations with the WH. There’d be one less seat holding up the paper-thin R majority,” Carone said. He added that Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN), Nancy Pelosi (CA), Adam Schiff (CA), and Eric Swalwell (CA) “did FAR worse, yet they didn’t try and expel each other.” None of the lawmakers Carone mentioned has been charged with a criminal offense.

Republican Reps. Anthony D’Esposito (NY), French Hill (AR), Max Miller (OH), Mark Molinaro (NY), Nick LaLota (NY), Nick Langworthy (NY), Mike Lawler (NY), Nancy Mace (SC), Nicole Malliotakis (NY), Brandon Williams (NY), and Steve Womack (AR) have previously called for Santos to resign his seat. 

Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales tweeted May 10: “The people of New York’s 3rd district deserve a voice in congress. George Santos should be immediately expelled from Congress and a special election initiated at the soonest possible date.”

Every one of those Republicans sided with McCarthy and Santos on Wednesday.

Florida Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna filed a resolution on Wednesday evening to expel Schiff, repeating debunked claims that Schiff lied to the American people about Russian meddling in the 2020 presidential campaign in support of Donald Trump.

Tiffany Muller, president of the progressive group End Citizens United, said in a press statement: “Despite facing 13 federal charges, Santos remains in office because Republicans care more about protecting their own than doing what’s right for the American people. All that talk of being ‘tough on crime’ and ‘law and order’ is just a ruse. Today’s vote is the latest reminder of that. They should be ashamed. We’ll make sure voters never forget about this cover-up.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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