A group of New York Republicans moved to force a vote on expelling Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) Thursday, the second effort this year to eject the first-term lawmaker from Congress amid mounting federal charges.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) called the measure to the floor as a privileged resolution Thursday afternoon, which forces leadership to act on the legislation within two legislative days. The House left Washington Thursday afternoon and is not scheduled to return until Wednesday.
Leadership can motion to table the resolution or refer it to a committee, both of which would require majority support. But if the legislation comes to the floor for a vote, it will need backing from two-thirds of the chamber.
The path forward on the expulsion resolution will be one of the first big decisions made by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who won the gavel Wednesday following former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) ouster from the top position. Johnson will have to make a decision on the Santos expulsion in his first week on the job.
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D’Esposito said he informed Johnson of his plans to bring the privileged resolution to the floor earlier Thursday, and, according to Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.), the newly minted Speaker said, “Do what’s right and do what’s right for New York.”
The New York Republicans said their decision to force a vote on expelling their colleague at this time was in response to a guilty plea from Santos’s former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks.
Marks pleaded guilty to conspiring with the then-candidate to fraudulently inflate his campaign finance reports. Marks reached a plea deal with prosecutors earlier this month, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Days later, Santos was charged with 10 new criminal counts on allegations that he inflated his campaign finance reports and charged donors’ credit cards without authorization, bringing the total number of charges against him to 23. In May, Santos was indicted on 13 federal charges over accusations that he misled donors and misrepresented his finances to the public and government agencies.
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is seen during a vote for Speaker in the House Chamber on Wednesday, October 25, 2023.
Santos is set to be arraigned for the second set of charges Friday.
“Certainly the indictment is persuasive, but more importantly, the plea by his treasurer confirming everything that we knew,” LaLota told reporters. “We knew a lot beforehand, he admitted to a lot of things in the D’Esposito resolution, but the treasurer’s plea I think is confirmation that, of a criminal conspiracy to defraud voters, donors, the FEC and everybody in between.”
Reached for comment, Santos referred The Hill to a post on X that reads: “Three points of clarification: 1. I have not cleared out my office. 2. I’m not resigning. 3. I’m entitled to due process and not a predetermined outcome as some are seeking. God bless!”
The move by the New York Republicans on Thursday is the second effort in recent months to expel Santos from office. Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) forced a vote on expelling Santos in May, but the House ultimately voted to send the resolution to the Ethics Committee — a move that was panned as largely redundant because the panel was already investigating the congressman.
The New York Republicans — who have called for Santos to resign and be expelled — voted in favor of referring the resolution in May, deferring to the panel as the legal process played out. D’Esposito said the New Yorkers are hearing that the Ethics Committee is supposed to be wrapping up its report “very soon.”
Now, however, because of the Marks guilty plea, they say it is time to remove Santos from Congress.
“I think the difference between this and what the Democrats had brought is that you have a guilty plea in court by his treasurer, confirming significant details and obviously a superseding indictment based on that conviction and guilty plea by his treasurer,” Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) told reporters. “When the original expulsion resolution was referred to Ethics, is because you need level of due process here. And obviously, you know, in order to get two-thirds vote, people need to be able to base something on. You have that with the guilty plea of his treasurer.
“His treasurer pled guilty,” he later added. “The superseding indictment that he is going to court tomorrow for is based on his treasurer’s guilty plea. So you have now a conviction in this case that very clearly lays out what he did and how he did it.”
LaLota suggested that the New York Republicans would not support a motion to table the resolution, telling reporters, “I don’t think a motion to table if there is one will be successful.”
“We plan on voting on a resolution to expel George Santos,” D’Esposito later said.
The expulsion resolution, which spans three pages, references lies and misrepresentations Santos has been accused of making. It also lists his federal charges and the Marks case.
If Santos is expelled, the House GOP’s majority would become even slimmer, taking away a key vote for the conference’s legislative pushes. If a vacancy opens up, a special election would be held to fill the seat.