Santos, Tlaib, Greene: House looks to police its own members

Mike Johnson, the newly elected Speaker (R-La. ), faces a three-pronged test in his first full week as the House’s top lawmaker. Members of both parties are looking to take disciplinary action against their political opponents. In his first week as Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson (R-La.) faces a triple test as both parties seek to discipline their political rivals.

Three resolutions are up for vote this week, including expelling Rep. George Santos of New York and censurating Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. They will shine a light on Johnson’s abilities to lead the GOP conference after a three-week battle that culminated with him winning the gavel.

Johnson’s situation is not his fault. Last week, lawmakers forced votes on expulsion and censure measures. This left the leadership with no other choice than to take action within two legislative days.

This timetable may come to an end as soon as Wednesday when the House reconvenes. Johnson will be put on the spot to decide how to proceed in relation to the three resolutions.

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Santos faces a vote about his expulsion, days after being arraigned for 10 federal charges for fraudulently inflating campaign finance reports and charging the credit cards of his donors without authorization. This brings his total to 23 charges. He has pleaded guilty.

Greene censured Tlaib for “antisemitic activities” and “sympathizing terrorist organizations”. In a similar move, Rep. Becca Balint, D-Vt., filed a resolution that censured Greene, listing roughly 40 controversial remarks the fiery congresswoman had made in the past.

Johnson has three choices for each resolution. Johnson has three options for each resolution. He can put the measures up for a vote – a majority vote is required for censure measures, and two thirds for expulsion measures – or he can send them to committee or even table them.

The Speaker’s plans have not been revealed.

Johnson said Monday that he would allow disciplinary measures to be put to a vote and was asked if his resolutions were meant to scare lawmakers away from their ledge.

Santos’ expulsion is being attempted again

The resolution to expel Santos – the rookie lawmaker facing increasing legal troubles – is by far the most important of the three measures. He will be tried in September 2024.

Last week, a group of New York Republicans forced a vote to remove Santos. This set the stage for the chamber’s second expulsion this year.

Kevin McCarthy, the former California Speaker, successfully moved in May to refer to the Ethics Committee a Democratic resolution for Santos’ expulsion. However, the outcome was mostly viewed as useless, because the panel had investigated the congressman for several months.

Johnson faces the same dilemma.

When asked Monday about his plans for the resolution Johnson responded, “We’ll See.” However, during an interview last week with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, the new Speaker indicated he might move to avoid a resolution vote.

He said, “George Santos has the right to due process.” “From what I understand, he will be appearing before a federal judge tomorrow.” We must allow the due process to take place. Our justice system is designed to do that. He is not convicted. He has been charged. “If we expel someone from Congress because they are charged with a criminal offense, that is a problem.”

Santos’s continued service as a member of the House is a double-edged blade for Johnson. It was also true for McCarthy while he served as Speaker.

Santos has been a constant source of frustration for the leadership. They have had to deal with every turn of his legal saga. Santos, on the other hand has been a reliable vote for the House GOP Conference in their slim majority. He has also helped the group achieve key legislative victories throughout this Congress.

House Republicans have a majority of four seats in the chamber. If Santos were to be expelled, this would shrink to three.

Johnson stated, “Here is the truth, Sean. We have a majority of four seats in the House.” It is possible that this number could be even lower in the weeks and months to come. We’ll then have the thinnest majority ever in the history the Congress. “We have no margin of error.”

The effort could fail even if Johnson decides to refer or table the Santos Resolution to a committee, which would protect lawmakers from having direct input on the issue.

The New York Republicans have indicated that they will vote against any delay in voting on the resolution. This is a sign the GOP conference won’t remain as united as it was in May. The GOP could defeat the Democrats, as they are expected to vote against any delay tactics.

Last week, Rep. Nick LaLota, R-N.Y., who is a cosponsor, told reporters that he did not think the motion would be successful.

In an interview with NewsNation’s The Hill on Monday, Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (the lead sponsor) said, “I think there’s an opportunity for it pass.”

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-NY, said that the recent guilty verdict of Nancy Marks (Santos’s former treasurer) could influence some of his colleagues. Marks admitted to conspiring to inflate the campaign finance reports of Santos, who was then a candidate.

Lawler said Marks’s guilty plea confirmed “significant details,” later saying, “you now have a conviction in the case that very clearly lays down what he did and exactly how he done it.”

Tit-for -tat censures

Johnson will have to decide on the measures to be taken to censure Tlaib, Greene and others — this is causing a “tit for tat” atmosphere on Capitol Hill.

Greene moved first to force a voting on her resolution censurating Tlaib, last week. This includes comments Tlaib had made following the surprise attack on Israel by Hamas (a U.S. designated terrorist group) earlier this month.

Tlaib is also accused of “leading an armed insurrection in the United States Capitol Complex,” following a demonstration in a Capitol building last month, in support of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that was organized jointly by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and IfNotNow. Tlaib was not at the protest according to a person familiar with the issue, but she participated in a rally calling for a ceasefire.

Tlaib’s vote could prove difficult for House Democrats, who have criticised Tlaib over some of her remarks about the Israel/Hamas conflict. They haven’t stated how they plan to vote. The wording of Greene’s resolution, and their animosity toward him may also influence their decision.