U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) has introduced a privileged resolution to expel fellow Congressman George Santos (R-N.Y.) from Congress in light of a recent criminal indictment.
Santos was indicted last week on 13 charges of wire fraud, money laundering, stealing public funds, and lying on federal campaign finance disclosure forms.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, and was released on a $500,000 bond.
He was also forced to surrender his passport to prevent him from fleeing the country, as he allegedly fled Brazil after being charged with using stolen checks to purchase clothing from a high-end store n the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in 2008.
While the federal case against Santos remains ongoing, House Democrats — led by three LGBTQ members of Congress — Garcia, Rep. Eric Sorenson (D-Ill.) and Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.) — introduced the resolution seeking to expel Santos, who is also gay, from Congress.
The resolution cites the U.S. Constitution, which holds that the U.S. House of Representatives can determine its own membership, and that a member may be punished for “disorderly behavior.”
The resolution is a single page that reads:
“Resolved, That, pursuant to Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 of the Constitution of the United States, Representative George Santos, be, and he hereby is, expelled from the House of Representatives.”
To expel Santos, two-thirds of House members would have to vote in favor of the resolution.
Because the resolution is privileged, it must be voted on within two days, meaning either on Wednesday or Thursday at the latest.
“George Santos is a fraud and a liar, and he needs to be expelled by the House,” Garcia said in a statement. “News that federal prosecutors are filing 13 criminal charges against George Santos should have been the final straw for Kevin McCarthy, but he refuses to act. Republicans now have a chance to demonstrate to Americans that an admitted criminal should not serve in the House of Representatives.”
Democrats believe they have cornered House Republicans, forcing them to either go on record defending Santos — who already faces a separate congressional ethics investigation for his campaign finance dealings, as well as an allegation of sexual misconduct from a prospective staffer — or vote to expel him, which could have recriminations for their own fate within the GOP caucus.
“The Republicans in the House are going to have to actually go on record and make a decision about whether they’re going to stand for truth and accountability,” Garcia told reporters on Tuesday, according to Axios.
Republican House leaders, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — who was elected to his current position with Santos’s support — have generally been silent about the New York congressman, or have argued that he is entitled to due process and that he should only be removed if the investigation by the House Ethics Committee finds Santos engaged in wrongdoing.
But McCarthy indicated he may seek to have Republicans sidestep the issue by referring the resolution to the House Ethics Committee, a motion that would only require a simply majority. That would allow the Ethics Committee to complete its investigation and offer findings or recommendations, including whether Santos should be disciplined or expelled.
According to CNN, McCarthy urged the committee to “move rapidly” on the Santos investigation to resolve the issue of Santos’s continued presence in Congress — which Democrats have sought to use as a cudgel against Republicans — once and for all.
“I think we can look at this very quickly and come to a conclusion on what George Santos did and did not do through ethics, a safe bipartisan committee,” McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday. “I would like the Ethics Committee to move rapidly on this.”
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) has said he plans to oppose efforts to refer the resolution to the Ethics Committee.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) office told CNN that the House could take up a vote to refer the resolution to the ethics committee as early as Wednesday evening.
Santos previously came under scrutiny shortly after being elected to Congress in last year’s midterm elections after admitting to fabricating details of his work history, personal background, and financial status.
Nearly a dozen House Republicans have called for Santos to resign from Congress, including several of his fellow New York Republicans, but only one member, Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) has said he should be expelled. As such, a motion to refer Garcia’s resolution to the House Ethics Committee may give those other members enough cover to avoid blowback from Republican base voters that could come with voting for expulsion without backtracking on their previous statements criticizing Santos’s alleged untruthfulness and questionable campaign dealings.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!