Rep. George Santos, the New York Republican who has been indicted on federal fraud charges and admitted to lying about his background, narrowly survived an effort to expel him from the House of Representatives in a bipartisan vote on Wednesday. The expulsion resolution, led by his fellow New York Republicans, accused Santos of being “not fit to serve.”
However, the resolution required support from a supermajority, meaning at least two-thirds of the voting lawmakers, to pass. The final vote count fell short of even a simple majority, with 179 members voting in favor of expulsion, 213 against, and 19 lawmakers voting “present.”
The effort to expel Santos saw 31 Democrats voting alongside 182 Republicans against expulsion, while 24 Republicans joined 155 Democrats in favor of removing Santos from office.
Rep. Santos gave a defiant floor speech before the vote, questioning the consistency of those who claimed to support the Constitution but acted as “judge, jury, and executioner.” He argued that the last House member to be expelled had been criminally convicted, and he emphasized the need to avoid setting a dangerous precedent.
Santos has pleaded not guilty to the federal fraud charges he is facing and is not scheduled for trial until September. Republican lawmakers, including newly minted Speaker Mike Johnson from Louisiana, expressed concerns about potentially eroding the GOP’s slim majority with Santos’ expulsion and called for due process.
The House Ethics Committee is currently investigating Santos, with plans to announce the next steps in its investigation by November 17. The committee has already contacted approximately 40 witnesses, reviewed over 170,000 pages of documents, and authorized 37 subpoenas.
Although the expulsion resolution did not pass, Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, a freshman Republican from New York, warned that he could bring up the resolution again after the Ethics Committee releases its findings. He stressed the importance of upholding a high standard for members of the House of Representatives.
Expulsions from the House of Representatives are rare, with only five instances in U.S. history. The last expulsion occurred in 2002 when Rep. James Traficant, a Democrat from Ohio, was expelled with near-unanimous support following his conviction on federal bribery, fraud, and other charges.
Santos has faced allegations of lying to his constituents after reports revealed that parts of his campaign biography were fabricated. He was also indicted in May on various counts, including wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and claims that he is the target of a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
In his post-vote remarks to reporters, Santos criticized his fellow New York colleagues leading the effort to expel him and suggested that their reputations were not on higher ground.