The House voted Friday to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) from Congress, a historic and embarrassing end to his brief legislative career that was built on lies from the start.
The final vote was 311 to 114. A breakdown of the vote tally is here.
It takes a two-thirds vote of the House to expel a lawmaker, requiring 290 of the 435 members to vote yes. The vote to expel Santos far surpassed that, but notably, GOP leaders all voted against expulsion. Speaker Mike Johnson (La.), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (La.), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (Minn.) and GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) all voted no.
Johnson presided over the historic vote.
“In light of the expulsion of the gentleman from New York, Mr. Santos, the whole number of the House is now 434,” he read aloud from a piece of paper. Weak applause could be heard somewhere in the House chamber.
Santos had survived two previous expulsion attempts. What was different this time was a scathing report released last month by the House Ethics Committee, which persuaded more lawmakers to say it was time for Santos to go.
The panel, which investigated Santos, found that he spent thousands of dollars in campaign funds on personal services and products, such as Botox treatments, Hermès designer products and access to a website used primarily by sex workers. The committee also alleged that Santos reported fake donations to his campaign to persuade donors to give him even more money ― and then kept all of that money for himself.
There have only been 20 people expelled from Congress in its entire history, and most were in the Senate and kicked out in the 1860s for supporting the Confederacy. The last time a federal lawmaker was expelled was in 2002 when then-Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) was convicted of bribery and racketeering.
Santos is the sixth House member to be expelled and the first Republican House member.
The New York Republican’s expulsion may be the least of his woes. He’s facing a 23-count federal indictment that alleges conspiracy, cheating to get unemployment benefits, credit card fraud and other crimes.
Santos has also been accused of lying about his résumé so many times that it’s hard to keep up. He’s misled people about his name, his Jewish heritage, being a descendant of Holocaust survivors from Ukraine, his mother being in the Twin Towers during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and his mother being the first female executive at a major financial institution. Immigration documents show that his mother worked as a housekeeper.
Santos has consistently denied he’s done anything wrong. Last month, he dismissed the House Ethics Committee’s probe into his finances, calling it “a dirty biased act and one that tramples all over my rights.”
In the wake of that report, though, he did announce he wouldn’t run for reelection.
A major reason that Santos is in Congress at all is because Stefanik strongly endorsed him.
“MAJOR ENDORSEMENT ALERT,” Stefanik tweeted in August 2021, with a picture of the two standing together.
“Excited to endorse my friend and fellow America First conservative George Santos for Congress in #NY03,” she tweeted. ”@Santos4Congress will take on NYC liberal elites and bring a new generation of GOP leadership to NY and America. He has my full support!”
Stefanik has been all crickets about Santos as his scandals have unfolded. That’s partly because it’s embarrassing that she helped bring him into the House, but it’s mostly because GOP leaders have such a slim majority that they’ve clung to every seat possible ― including Santos’ seat ― in order to push through their agenda. They’ve been willing to overlook his constant lies and criminal indictments to keep his seat from going to a Democrat.
But the ethics investigation was the final straw, and with the 2024 elections in sight, they don’t want to be associated with him and his alleged crimes at the polls.