By a vote of 311–114, the United States House of Representatives today voted to expel Republican George Santos, a con artist and fraudster who was elected to the House a little over a year ago from New York’s 3rd District. Santos is just the sixth person to be forcibly removed from the House in its centuries-long existence.
Nearly all Democrats and a good number of Republicans voted to get rid of Santos, making his expulsion possible. Several previous expulsion attempts had failed, but this one came in the wake of a blistering report from the House Ethics Committee which documented crimes by Santos. (Santos has also been criminally charged by the Department of Justice and claims the charges are baseless.)
“In May, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Santos on 13 felony counts largely tied to financial fraud,” The New York Times reported. “That indictment focused on three schemes identified by prosecutors; Mr. Santos pleaded not guilty. In October, prosecutors accused Mr. Santos of new criminal schemes related to his 2022 campaign; he pleaded not guilty again. He has also repeatedly denied any criminal activity, including after the House Ethics report’s release.”
Santos didn’t stick around to find out his fate, choosing to leave instead.
“As unofficially already no longer a member of Congress, I no longer have to answer a single question. That is the one thing that I’m going to take forever,” Santos huffed. (He does have a Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, but he’s not going to be off the hook for his misdeeds, even if he chooses not to answer any more questions from anyone.)
Speaker Mike Johnson and other top Republicans opposed the expulsion of Santos, making it clear they’d rather have a fraudster remain among their ranks rather than lose a vote from their already slim majority.
However, they did not whip the vote to expel Santos.
“While Johnson and his leadership team are not formally whipping against the latest expulsion push, describing it as a vote of conscience, other House Republicans on the fence are certain to take cues from leadership,” Politico reported prior to the vote. “It’s not clear that there are enough votes to meet the two-thirds threshold needed to eject Santos.”
But in the end, there were enough votes.
Santos’ fellow New York Republicans have helped lead the charge. They had concluded that their 2024 electoral fortunes will be improved with Santos gone.
“He should have resigned. It shouldn’t have come to this. But it is. And now we’re going to actually allow the third district to elect a representative. Someone that they can trust. Someone that they know,” said Representative Anthony D’Esposito, who represents the 4th District and frequently criticizes Santos.
The roll call from the Pacific Northwest was as follows:
Voting for expulsion: Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Marilyn Strickland (WA), Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Val Hoyle, and Andrea Salinas (OR), Mary Peltola (AK); Republican Representatives Dan Newhouse (WA), Cliff Bentz and Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR), Mike Simpson (ID), Ryan Zinke (MT)
Voting against expulsion: Republican Representatives Russ Fulcher (ID), Matt Rosendale (MT)
Not voting: Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA)
Ultra MAGA Representatives Russ Fulcher and Matt Rosendale were the only representatives from the greater Pacific Northwest to oppose expulsion.
Also among the 112 Republicans voting nay were Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Nancy Mace, Chip Roy, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Only New York Republicans besides Santos voted with him: Elise Stefanik and Claudia Tenney. Stefanik is a Trump-adoring member of leadership.
Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy skipped the vote along with McMorris Rodgers and six other members of the House, including Dean Phillips and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Phillips is challenging Joe Biden for President.)
A special election must now be held to pick a successor to Santos. Vacancies in the House cannot be filled by appointment, unlike Senate vacancies.
“I am prepared to undertake the solemn responsibility of filling the vacancy in New York’s 3rd District. The people of Long Island deserve nothing less,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted. By that, she means she will be prepared to call a special election, because she doesn’t get to make an appointment.
New York Democrats are likely to nominate Santos’ predecessor Tom Suozzi in the special election. Republicans have several candidates to choose from and it’s not yet clear which one of them will get the nod. The special election is likely be held in several weeks’ time, around midwinter or shortly thereafter.
As for Santos, we say good riddance. After he answers for his alleged crimes, he deserves his own episode of American Greed on CNBC.