Santos’s fate hangs in limbo as expulsion vote nears

Rep. George Santos is dangerously close to the midnight hour.

Santos’s legal and ethical problems have led to a series of serious attempts to remove him from Congress. The House will vote on Friday a resolution that would expel Santos. This is the third attempt and the most serious to do so.

Long Island’s first-term congressman easily passed the first two votes to end his brief career. After the release of an Ethics Committee report, both sides have been pushing for Santos’ removal. This week could be the end of a Capitol Hill saga which has gripped Washington ever since Santos took office.

Santos’ fate is still uncertain. The third expulsion would need the support of a large number of Republicans in order to pass the two-thirds threshold. The controversy has caused a headache for the newly-installed Speaker Mike Johnson (R, La). Santos’ fate is a matter of balancing competing interests and trying to find a delicate balance.


Johnson is under pressure from Santos’s most vocal GOP critics, including vulnerable New York Republicans, to remove a legislator they consider a drag on reelection prospects. A number of Republicans are raising concerns that Santos’ removal without a criminal conviction could set a dangerous precedent that would empower rival legislators to override voters’ wishes for political purposes.

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., an expulsion opposer, stated before the vote: “This thing could easily be weaponized by a future Speaker who’s not as principled Mike Johnson.” “I think it’s an awful precedent to set.”

Johnson, seeking a compromise, has stated his reluctance in backing the expulsion resolution. He cited precedent concerns and also stressed that he, along with his leadership team, will not pressurize members of his GOP Conference to protect Santos. Johnson leaves it up to each legislator “to vote according to their conscience.”

The issue of whether Republicans support the expulsion or not is a political one.

Johnson, with a mere four-vote margin, can’t afford to lose any votes as he tries to pass government spending bills and avoid a shutdown in the coming weeks and months. Santos’ removal would further reduce that small advantage. The math problem for GOP leaders has been made more difficult by the upcoming resignation of Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio in March and the possibility that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. could also leave early. Democrats claim that Republicans are keeping Santos on the job to maximize their slim advantage.

Rep. Pete Aguilar, chair of the House Democratic Caucus (Calif.), asked this question to his colleagues: “Do you really think that if Republicans held a majority of 25 seats, they would be concerned about George Santos’s vote?”

Santos will not enjoy the same level — or any — of Democratic support this time. The Ethics Committee’s findings, according to some of the 31 Democrats, were enough for them to vote in favor of Santos’ expulsion even though he had not been convicted of a crime.

Mark Takano, D-Calif., who was opposed to expulsion only weeks ago but now supports it, said: “I feel more secure now that an internal investigation has been conducted, that internal due process is being followed, and that they have decided to release all of the evidence, their findings. This was extraordinary.”

Santos’ removal would be historic. He would become the only sixth House member to be expelled from Congress since it was founded 234 years ago. And the third since The Civil War. Santos would be the first Republican to be expelled and the first in modern times to have been ejected without being convicted by a court.

Santos relies heavily on this legal distinction — that he has been indicted, but not convicted — to accuse his critics of undermining voters’ will who sent him Washington.

“Every member of this institution expelled has been convicted or Confederate Turncoats guilty of Treason. Santos, during a debate on Thursday in the House, said that neither of those things apply to him. “On what basis do you feel this body must change precedent for me, an American citizen duly elected and elected to represent New York’s 3rd District?

“I was not convicted of any crimes, Mr. Speaker.”

The Friday vote could be the end of an illustrious and scandal-plagued stint on Capitol Hill that began with revelations Santos had made up large portions of his background in preparation for his victory in 2022. Santos’s murky past was scrutinized even more after these early revelations. The resume fabrications, many of which Santos admitted, eventually led to far more serious charges. His indictment included 23 federal counts for campaign finance, fraud by wire, and other allegations. Santos has denied all charges.

These charges mean that while Santos may soon be able to put an end to his political troubles, the legal problems are only just beginning: Santos’s trial will begin in September 2024.

Two of Santos’s former employees — ex-fundraiser Samuel Miele, and previous campaign manager Nancy Marks — have pleaded to crimes related to the New Yorker. This has raised questions about whether they will be willing to testify against Santos.

Santos’ fate is still in doubt ahead of the Friday vote. He has said that he believes that this week will mark his final time on Capitol Hill. When asked by reporters if he thought he would be expelled, Santos replied “probably”.

He added, “If you base your decision on math I think so.”

The embattled legislator is aware of this calculation and makes sure to voice all his complaints — loudly — in order to keep his seat in Congress.

Santos, in an extensive conversation with reporters on Thursday, said: “I’ll have fun on the way out. Don’t worry.” “I have plenty receipts.”

This week, the first-term legislator launched a sort of press tour, holding a morning press conference, a 45 minute sit-down session with reporters and speaking on the House floor about the Ethics Committee’s incriminating findings.

He is also targeting his co-workers.

Santos forced a vote on Thursday to expel Rep. Jamaal BOWMAN (D-NY) after the New York Democrat pleaded guilty for a misdemeanor charge of pulling a fire alarm at a House Office Building ahead of a crucial vote.

He told reporters the same day that he planned to file “a number” of