December 11, 2023

By Kevin Freking and Stephen Groves | Related Press

WASHINGTON — Rep. George Santos simply survived a vote Wednesday to expel him from the Home as most Republicans and 31 Democrats opted to withhold punishment whereas each his felony trial and a Home Ethics Committee investigation proceed.

The hassle to kick Santos out of the Home was led by his fellow New York Republicans, who’re anxious to distance themselves from a colleague notorious for fabricating his life story and accused of stealing from donors, mendacity to Congress and receiving unemployment advantages he didn’t deserve.

However the decision failed to achieve the required two-thirds vote. Supporters couldn’t even achieve a easy majority, with the ultimate vote being 179 for expulsion and 213 towards.

To succeed, quite a few Republican lawmakers would have needed to break ranks with newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson, who has mentioned Santos ought to get his day in court docket. Johnson, R-La., additionally just lately instructed Fox Information that if Congress goes to expel members as a result of they’re charged with a criminal offense or accused of wrongdoing, “that’s an issue.”

Some Democrats additionally voiced issues about getting forward of the Ethics Committee, which issued a uncommon memo the day earlier than, citing the depth of its investigation with some 40 witnesses contacted and the issuance of 37 subpoenas. It additionally mentioned the following steps of the committee’s investigation could be introduced by Nov. 17.

Congress has hardly ever resorted to essentially the most excessive punishment at its disposal. The Home has expelled solely 5 members in its historical past — three throughout the Civil Struggle and two after their convictions on public corruption expenses. It will be groundbreaking for the Home to kick out Santos earlier than his case in federal court docket is resolved.

Some Republicans, nonetheless, mentioned they’d seen sufficient of Santos. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., mentioned he believes in due course of, but in addition thinks Santos misrepresented himself to New York voters they usually by no means would have elected him if they’d “recognized the true George Santos.”

“We don’t want the Santos charade all through the 2024 election cycle. I feel the Congress must take motion now,” Womack mentioned.

The Home flooring debate over whether or not to expel Santos was undertaken strictly by members of the New York congressional delegation. On one facet, Republican Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Nick LaLota and Mike Lawler laid out their case for expelling Santos.

“Mr. Santos is a stain on this establishment and never match to serve his constituents within the Home of Representatives,” D’Esposito mentioned.

On the opposite facet was Santos, who appealed to lawmakers to carry off on expulsion, saying that passing judgment with out due course of would engender distrust.

“I’m combating tooth and nail to clear my identify in entrance of your entire world,” Santos mentioned. “It hasn’t been straightforward, however I’m combating by God’s grace.”

The one Democratic lawmaker to talk throughout the debate was Rep. Dan Goldman. He mentioned Santos ought to have been expelled in Might when Democrats introduced an expulsion decision, and the one motive the New York Republicans have been main the hassle now was as a result of Santos “hangs like an albatross across the necks of each single Republican from New York.”

“They don’t care any extra about integrity or morality or the popularity of this establishment than they did in Might once they voted to guard Mr. Santos,” Goldman mentioned. “They only care about their reelection in a single yr once they know that their assist for George Santos goes to be an issue.”

The New York Republicans specified by their expulsion decision the array of expenses Santos is dealing with in federal court docket, saying the fees indicated Santos engaged in severe monetary fraud all through his 2022 marketing campaign for the Home. The decision mentioned he deceived voters relating to his biography and is “not match to serve his constituents as United States Consultant.”

“Mr. Santos has mentioned expelling him earlier than he’s formally charged and located responsible would create a brand new precedent on this physique, one that would have destructive penalties for generations,” LaLota mentioned. “Respectfully, Mr. Speaker, I disagree. The results and precedents of not expelling him for his lies and fraud has the potential to do way more injury to this establishment.”

In Might, Republicans below then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California sidestepped the Democratic-led effort to expel Santos. Whereas 204 Democrats voted towards a movement to refer the matter to the Home Ethics Committee, Home Republicans stood unified behind the hassle that delayed motion on Santos’ conduct.

Johnson, who took the speaker’s gavel final week, made it clear he would favor to not oust Santos at this level, regardless of the numerous expenses towards the congressman, as Johnson struggles to manage a really slim majority.

“He’s solely been charged. He hasn’t been discovered responsible of something. We have now due course of in America,” mentioned GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the Home Judiciary Committee, who opposed the expulsion decision.

However in an indication that not everybody in GOP management shares that view, the third-ranking Republican, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, joined the New York Republicans on the ground final week once they launched the decision.

Democrats have been additionally extra divided than they have been throughout the earlier expulsion effort towards Santos. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., known as it an advanced vote as a result of she want to watch for the committee to launch its findings first.

“If there’s a report forthcoming, I feel we owe it to ourselves to offer ourselves a few weeks in order that we’re all working off the identical data,” she mentioned.

Lawler, one of many architects of the expulsion decision, has argued that the Home now has sufficient proof to expel Santos, even when Santos’ felony trial has not concluded. Lawler pointed to a responsible plea that the ex-treasurer for Santos made for a fraud conspiracy cost associated to Santos’ marketing campaign.

“So you could have now a conviction on this case, that very clearly lays out what he did and the way he did it,” Lawler mentioned.

D’Esposito, the lead sponsor of the decision, mentioned he spoke with Johnson over the weekend about their efforts and the speaker didn’t ask him to drag the decision.

“He has been very clear that it’s good to do what you assume is correct and it’s good to do what you assume is correct for the individuals of New York,” D’Esposito mentioned.

Santos faces 23 expenses in federal court docket. His trial has been scheduled for September subsequent yr. He has pleaded not responsible to these expenses.

Additionally on Wednesday night, the Home voted to reject an effort to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Democrats known as off an effort to censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.