For only the sixth time in its history, the U.S. House of Representatives has expelled one of its members. Enough of the majority Republicans joined most of the minority Democrats on Friday morning to oust George Santos, a first-term Republican from New York.
The House Ethics Committee recently issued a report finding there was substantial evidence that Santos broke the law. Federal investigators have charged Santos with fraud, money laundering, stealing campaign donors’ identities, falsifying campaign finance reports and more.
Santos has pleaded not guilty to all of the 23 federal charges he is facing. He came under intense scrutiny and ridicule after it was revealed he had embellished his education, career and family background.
With a rap of the gavel, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson officially announced Santos’ ouster — 311 members voted for his expulsion. All 114 lawmakers who voted against his removal were Republicans. Two Democrats recorded their vote as present.
“Two-third voting in the affirmative, the resolution is adopted,” Johnson, a Republican, informed the House. “The clerk will notify the governor of the state of New York of the action of the House. Under clause 5-D of rule 20, the chair announces to the House in light of the expulsion of the gentleman from New York, Mr. Santos, the whole number of the House is now 434.”
There was then a smattering of applause after the historical event.
Santos muttered to a reporter “to hell with this place,” after he walked off the House floor for the final time.
“It shouldn’t have come to this,” Representative Anthony D’Esposito, a New York Republican who backed Santos’ removal, said as he left the chamber. “George Santos should have held himself accountable. He should have resigned.”
Representative Nick Lalota, also a New York Republican, told reporters, “It’s time to move on from George Santos.”
Santos had become the subject of comedians’ jokes across the country. He provided them a lot of material after it was revealed he had made numerous wild and false claims, including that he was a college volleyball star on a championship team, that he had worked at top-tier investment banks and amassed wealth and that his mother had been in the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terror attacks. He had also claimed to be a descendant of Holocaust survivors, another falsehood that especially angered voters in a district that is 20% Jewish.
Santos later tried to qualify that fib, explaining he was “Jew-ish,” if not actually Jewish.
That only prompted additional disgust and amplified calls for him to quit.
“This is a massive victory for New York 3rd District residents who are finally free from a lying lawmaker cheating the system to pad his own pockets and his closet,” said Rahna Epting, executive director of the progressive MoveOn political action group, which had pushed for the congressman to resign or be expelled.
With Santos’ removal from Congress, the Republican Party retains a slim four-seat majority in the House with the next general election 11 months away. A special election is expected to be held early next year in Santos’ district to replace him.
Democrats are vowing to flip New York’s 3rd congressional district seat to their side. President Joe Biden in 2020 won the district by more than 10 percentage points.