Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), the serial fabulist who is facing federal charges of stealing the identities of some of his political donors and using their credit cards, will get to remain in Congress for at least a little bit longer.
Under the U.S. Constitution, a two-thirds majority is required to expel a member, but a resolution in the House to oust Santos did not even garner a majority, failing 179 to 213 with 19 members voting “present.”
It was considered a long shot for the expulsion resolution to get the two-thirds support it needed, but a majority of lawmakers had been expected to vote in favor of Santos’ expulsion.
Afterward, Santos crowed about the vote to reporters.
“I think it’s very clear: They do not have the support they thought they did. They touted to all of you in the media they had the votes,” Santos said.
“I’m not claiming a victory. I’m just saying that this is a victory for the process. Due process won today, not George Santos.”
Santos has argued that getting rid of him while his case is still in the courts is wrong and would set a new, lower precedent for expulsion.
Historically, three of the five representatives expelled from the House were booted for disloyalty to the Union during the Civil War, while the other two were convicted of crimes before they were expelled.
Santos has been the subject of two previous ouster attempts, but those were led by Democrats who cited admitted falsehoods he’d told while campaigning to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District. Instead, Santos’ fellow Empire State Republicans took the reins on this effort.
Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) attributed the vote total to the announcement of possible Ethics Committee action soon regarding Santos.
In a statement Tuesday, House Ethics Committee leaders said that they would announce their “next course of action” on or before Nov. 17 — a signal that the panel, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, was ready to unveil the results of an investigation it undertook.
Ethics Chair Michael Guest (R-Miss.) and the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), said the panel’s investigative subcommittee had contacted about 40 witnesses, reviewed more than 170,000 pages of documents, and authorized 37 subpoenas as part of its probe, running concurrently with the federal criminal investigation.
“The Ethics Committee announcement, suggesting a report in two weeks, obviously weighed on members’ minds and many of them want to wait until that report becomes public,” Molinaro said.
The two previous efforts to expel Santos from the House were derailed by being referred to the Ethics Committee before coming to a vote.
In addition to the identity theft accusations, Santos faces charges relating to money laundering, wire fraud and lying on federal financial disclosures. Santos has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The vote on Wednesday is unlikely to be the end of the story.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.), who filed the expulsion resolution and has spearheaded the New York Republicans’ effort, told reporters he would continue to drum up support for getting rid of Santos while waiting on Ethics.
Asked what the next step is, he told reporters, “I think the next step after the Ethics Committee is to be back here voting on an expulsion.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated there were 13 “present” votes. There were 19.