New York Rep. George Santos has just been removed from Congress. In a rare vote to expel a sitting member of Congress, nearly all House Democrats and many Republican representatives approved of a motion to remove Santos from his position. The vote brings a sudden and dramatic end to Santos’ short time in Congress, which has been plagued by scandals and allegations of criminal wrongdoing.
Santos only the sixth person ever expelled from the House of Representatives
As reported by The New York Times, the members of the House of Representatives voted on Friday to expel Santos, with 311 representatives voting in favor of removing him, clearing the two-thirds threshold needed to pass an expulsion vote. All but four Democrats in the House voted to expel Santos. Republicans were almost evenly split, with 112 Republicans, including the party’s top leadership in the House, voting for Santos to remain and 105 members of the GOP voting for his removal.
The split in the Republican vote demonstrates the tricky political situation the GOP finds itself in. Santos’ presence in Congress amid mounting scandals has been a constant source of embarrassment for Republicans. Some members of the GOP were eager to remove Santos from the House. One Republican congressman, Max Miller of Ohio, even claimed that he and his mother were victims of Santos’ fraud, alleging that Santos’ campaign overcharged them a total of $10,000 in campaign donations. On the other hand, Republicans hold a very narrow majority in the House, making leaders of the party desperate to maintain as many votes as possible within the chamber. With Santos now gone, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul will organize a special election to fill his position, and Democrats are optimistic that they can win his 3rd district seat, which voted for Biden in 2020 before electing Santos in 2022.
With Friday’s vote, Santos became only the sixth person ever expelled from the U.S. House of Representatives and only the 20th person expelled from Congress altogether, a figure that incudes those removed for supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War. Santos’ expulsion comes after he was charged with 23 felony charges related to campaign finance fraud and a House Ethics Committee report concluded that he had likely committed the crimes of which he has been accused.
Speaking to CNN immediately after the expulsion vote, Santos said, “The House spoke, that’s their vote,” while adding that “they just set new dangerous precedent for themselves.” CNN noted that, because Santos has not yet been convicted of the crimes of which he has been accused, he could still make use of “nonmember privileges,” such as access to the House floor as well as its cloakroom, dining room and gym. When asked if he would still use those privileges, Santos responded, “Why would I want to stay here? To hell with this place.” After answering questions from CNN, Santos ended his remarks to the news network by saying, ”You know what? As unofficially no longer a member of Congress, I no longer have to answer your questions.”
Since winning a surprise victory in 2022 to represent the 3rd district of New York in the House of Representatives, Santos’ term in Congress has been marked by numerous scandals. A series of articles published shortly after his election revealed that Santos appeared to have lied during his campaign about many aspects of his life and background, including his education, employment and even his ethnicity. Since then, he has faced multiple accusations of having committed fraud and financial crimes, both before he launched his political career and during his run for Congress. These include accusations of misdeeds ranging from operating a credit card scam scheme prior to running for Congress to sexually harassing a prospective congressional aide while in office.
Although Santos has either dismissed or downplayed the many accusations against him, the consequences of his alleged deceptions have grown, leading to the federal indictment and the scathing ethics report that sealed his fate in Congress. Now that Santos has faced the political consequences of his alleged deceptions with today’s expulsion vote, he will have to prepare to deal with the potential legal consequences as well.