On Friday, the House made the historic decision to expel Representative George Santos, marking the end of the New York Republican’s tumultuous tenure in Congress. Santos now holds the dubious distinction of being the sixth lawmaker ever to be ousted from the lower chamber, a move not witnessed in the past two decades. This unprecedented action, which required three attempts over six months and broad bipartisan support, reached the two-thirds majority needed to expel a sitting member, with a final tally of 311-114-2. The vote reflected the significant dissatisfaction with Santos, who faced federal indictment on 23 counts of wire fraud, identity theft, and other campaign finance charges.
Notably, this expulsion, coming just 11 months into Santos’s term, underscored the growing divisions within the Republican conference. Despite initial recognition as a GOP trailblazer, Santos became a liability for the party, particularly as he faced serious legal troubles. The expulsion also posed immediate challenges for Speaker Mike Johnson and his leadership team, as their slim majority in the House narrowed further.
During the vote, only two Democrats, Reps. Bobby Scott and Nikema Williams, opposed the expulsion, while Reps. Al Green and Jonathan Jackson voted present. Speaker Johnson, presiding over the historic moment, expressed reservations about removing Santos before the resolution of his criminal cases. However, his stance did not sway the majority of Republicans who supported expulsion.
The process to remove Santos began following revelations of fabrications in his campaign biography, accelerated by criminal indictments, and culminated with a damning report from the House Ethics Committee, stating that Santos had violated federal criminal laws. Despite Santos’s persistent claims of innocence, the expulsion vote signaled the severity of the allegations.
Santos’s departure raised questions about the precedent for expulsion, as he pointed out that he had only been charged and not convicted. Critics argued that the serious findings against him, documented in a 56-page Ethics Committee report, justified both his removal and the establishment of a higher standard for congressional members.
While Santos maintained his innocence and criticized the process as setting a dangerous precedent, he acknowledged the likelihood of the end of his congressional career. Facing a legal battle with 23 criminal counts, including charges of misleading donors and unauthorized credit card charges, Santos expressed concern about potential jail time. Despite these challenges, he reflected on his 11-month tenure, expressing pride in his accomplishments while acknowledging regrets about associations during his political journey. As Santos’s legal troubles continue, the race to fill his seat has already intensified, with over a dozen candidates vying for the opportunity.