US House vote to expel discredited lawmaker Santos fails
November 2, 2023 10:41 AM
George Santos, the scandal-plagued US congressman and admitted fabricator who has been indicted on federal charges of stealing from donors, will remain in the House of Representatives for now after a vote to expel him failed on Wednesday.
Fellow Republicans in his state of New York have been keen to distance themselves from the lawmaker, who has acknowledged lying to voters by making up large chunks of his life story including college credentials and work experience, and then refusing to resign when called out for the misrepresentation.
But Republicans currently hold a razor-thin majority of four seats in the 435-seat House. Losing a member would have made passing legislation even more difficult for Republicans and their new speaker of the House, Mike Johnson.
The vote to expel Santos was rejected 179-213.
Santos pleaded not guilty last week to the latest federal indictments against him, including stealing donors' identities and running up fraudulent charges on their credit cards.
He is also accused of wire fraud and money laundering, as well as collecting unemployment benefits that he was not entitled to during the coronavirus pandemic, before his election to Congress.
Had the freshman lawmaker been expelled it would have marked the first time since 2002 that the House has booted one of its own. Then, Ohio Democrat James Traficant was ousted over 10 charges including bribery.
The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation of Santos in February and has yet to release any determination or findings. The panel's leaders said Tuesday the committee will announce its "next course of action" in the matter by November 17.
But congressman Anthony D'Esposito of New York had sought a quicker path, filing a bill last week that, if it had been passed by a two-thirds majority of House members present, would have kicked Santos out of the chamber.
"We must remove this conman from the People's House," D'Esposito, whose congressional district borders that of Santos, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
Large swathes of New York state lean Democratic, and its Republican lawmakers are seen as vulnerable in the 2024 election and several of them -- as well as Santos's constituents -- have called on him to resign.
He has refused.