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'Leave the halls of Congress': House to vote on expelling George Santos as outrage grows

WASHINGTON – Momentum is surging among House lawmakers to expel indicted Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., and the lower chamber was expected vote on whether to boot him as early as Wednesday afternoon − a rare sight in Congress.

Santos all but accepted his fate this week as support quickly built for his expulsion among members on both sides of the aisle. The Long Island Republican has said he will take his expulsion in stride and “wear it like a badge of honor.”

Two House Democrats, Robert Garcia of California and Dan Goldman of New York, filed a privileged resolution Tuesday afternoon to force a vote on the House floor, essentially guaranteeing lawmakers will have to decide Santos’ fate this week. A privileged resolution is a procedural move to force the House to take up a measure within two legislative days.

“He has clearly committed massive crimes. He has lied to his constituents. His whole life is a fabrication, and he himself is prepared to be expelled,” Garcia said Tuesday after filing the resolution, though Santos has maintained his innocence as he faces federal charges.

Efforts to expel Santos, who has already survived two expulsion attempts, picked up steam after the House Ethics Committee released a scathing report earlier this month finding substantial evidence Santos broke federal laws and misused his campaign for his personal benefit.

Among the findings in the committee’s 56-page report was Santos allegedly misrepresenting his campaign finances and using money for his own financial benefit. In one instance, Santos is accused of taking $50,000 from his campaign to make purchases at Hermes, a luxury apparel store; at OnlyFans and Sephora; and for meals and parking.

The freshman GOP member has long been a controversial figure in Congress after it was reported he fabricated his resume on the campaign trail and misrepresented his background to constituents. During his tenure, Santos also has been hit with multiple federal charges related to his campaign, including money laundering, wire fraud, credit card fraud and identity theft.

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., talks to reporters as House Republicans hold a caucus meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Oct. 13, 2023.
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., talks to reporters as House Republicans hold a caucus meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Oct. 13, 2023.

Though Santos has admitted to lying about his background, he has denied all wrongdoing related to his campaign and has pleaded not guilty to the charges leveled against him.

House Ethics Committee Chair Michael Guest, R-Miss., had filed an expulsion resolution against Santos after the report’s release. But the resolution was not noticed as privileged until Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, R-N.Y., on Tuesday evening also forced the House to take up the effort within two legislative days.

Guest's resolution, which is led by Santos' GOP opponents, is expected to be the bill taken up on the House floor to remove Santos.

Garcia and Goldman described their expulsion efforts as an “insurance policy” to ensure the House votes to expel Santos this week and deter House GOP leadership from stalling his potential removal.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has been staying in touch with Santos and has been discussing alternative avenues for the embattled New York Republican. Johnson has not urged Santos to resign but told him a resignation would prevent GOP lawmakers from having to take a tough vote, Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., told reporters Tuesday afternoon after a closed-door meeting of Republican leadership.

Santos confirmed to reporters Tuesday that he was in contact with Johnson and said he told the speaker he will stay in office until he is expelled or his term ends, daring his detractors to put an expulsion vote on the floor.

It's time for his opponents to "put up or shut up at this point," Santos said.

There is largely bipartisan support to expel Santos, which, unlike most other votes, requires a two-thirds vote to pass.

The first expulsion resolution, which the House voted on in May, was led by Garcia and failed. It was referred to the Ethics Committee, which was already investigating Santos at the time.

Earlier in November, Santos’ fellow New York Republicans led the second effort to expel him, but that effort also failed as both Democrats and Republicans deferred to the House Ethics Committee to release its long-awaited report. After the report’s release, multiple members who voted against expelling Santos have flipped and said they would now support removing him from Congress.

A 15-foot balloon depicting Rep. George Santos displayed near the west front of the United States Capitol on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 by the organization MoveOn. Embattled Rep. George Santos (R-NY) faces a possible vote of expulsion from the House of Representatives this week.
A 15-foot balloon depicting Rep. George Santos displayed near the west front of the United States Capitol on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 by the organization MoveOn. Embattled Rep. George Santos (R-NY) faces a possible vote of expulsion from the House of Representatives this week.

“Rep. Santos’ actions warrant punishment and he should no longer serve in the House. If he does not resign, I would vote to expel him,” Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., who originally voted against Santos’ expulsion, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Santos would be the first member in recent years to be removed from Congress without being convicted of a crime. He has argued he deserves due process and should not be expelled as he goes through the legal process.

Goldman, a former federal prosecutor, disputed Santos’ arguments on the Capitol steps.

“There is a very important standard in criminal law which is that you are innocent until proven guilty,” Goldman said. “That does apply to being a member of Congress. You do not need to have a criminal conviction to be unfit for office and to warrant expulsion.

“It is time once and for all for George Santos to leave the halls of Congress.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: House to vote on expelling Republican George Santos as outrage grows