Why Third Vote To Expel Santos Could Succeed—And What Could Happen Next

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Topline

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) could be removed from Congress this week as the House is set to vote for a third time whether to oust him—a consequence that would make him the first member of Congress to be booted by his colleagues without having first been convicted of a crime and one that could cost Republicans a seat in their narrow majority in the House.

Key Facts

Reps. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) and Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) introduced the latest expulsion resolution Tuesday as a “privileged” measure, requiring the House to vote within 48 hours.

The resolution comes after a damning report released earlier this month by the House Ethics Committee found Santos “blatantly stole from his campaign” by engaging in a variety of schemes to defraud his donors, prompting dozens of Republicans who voted against the previous two ouster efforts to flip their votes.

There are indications Santos may be able to survive a third effort to remove him, which requires the support of two-thirds of members: House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said Wednesday he has “real reservations” about the precedent it could set by removing him without a conviction, and other Republicans, including Reps. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) and Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), have said they will vote against his removal.

If Santos is removed, it could cut into Republicans’ slim 222-213 majority as he represents a district that was previously in Democrats’ control and would have voted for President Joe Biden in 2020 under its existing boundaries.

Big Number

77. That’s the number of Republicans who would need to vote with the 213 Democrats in the House to remove Santos, assuming all members on both sides of the aisle are present for the vote and all Democrats vote in favor of removing him. About 60 GOP members, including the 24 who voted previously to remove him, have said they will back his expulsion this time around, Politico reported. Not all Democrats support expelling Santos, though. Forty-six voted present or against the previous effort, and 21 so far have said they’ll flip their votes in favor of expulsion this week, according to Politico.

What To Watch For

Santos is set to hold a press conference Thursday, but he’s made no indication he’ll announce that he’ll resign, despite GOP lawmakers, including Johnson, amplifying their calls for him to do so this week after the latest resolution was introduced. Johnson said the vote is likely to happen Thursday, but House leaders also suggested Wednesday it could be pushed to Friday, Punchbowl News reported.

Key Background

The vote could mark the first time Santos has faced formal punishment for the litany of ethical and criminal allegations against him that emerged shortly after his election to Congress in November of last year. Weeks before his January swearing in, the New York Times published an exposé suggesting he lied about large swaths of his background, including a career on Wall Street, his college degrees, his Jewish heritage and his mother being present at the Twin Towers during the 9/11 attacks. More nefarious allegations were aired in the subsequent months suggesting he broke laws, including by stealing from a charity fund he helped set up to aid a veteran’s dying dog and lying on his required federal financial disclosure forms about how much he was worth and the source of his purported wealth. Santos was indicted earlier this year on 23 federal fraud-related charges accusing him of stealing donors’ identities, using their credit cards for personal expenses and making false statements on his required financial disclosure forms, among other charges. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Tangent

Santos faces maximum sentences ranging from two to 20 years in prison for each of his 23 charges. He was initially indicted in May on 13 charges accusing him of using campaign contributions on personal expenses, including paying off his debts and buying designer clothes. Prosecutors also accused him of lying on his required financial disclosure forms and applying for unemployment benefits while he was earning a six-figure salary. In a superseding indictment filed in October, prosecutors charged Santos with 10 additional crimes accusing him of fraudulently inflating his campaign coffers in order to qualify to receive support from the national Republican Party committee and of stealing his donors identities and using their credit cards.

What We Don’t Know

Who could replace Santos if he’s removed. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul must call a special election to replace him within 10 days of a vacancy, and it’s required to be held between 70 and 80 days later. County party committees select their nominees in a special election, according to state law. Sixteen candidates have already filed to run for Santos’ seat in the 2024 election, including former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Santos’ predecessor who stepped away from Congress to run for governor.

MORE FROM FORBESHere Are The Allegations Against George Santos, Indicted On Fraud Charges
MORE FROM FORBESHere Are The Crimes George Santos Has Been Charged With-And The Prison Time He Could Face
MORE FROM FORBESHere’s Everything George Santos Has Been Accused Of Lying About

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