Published On: Tue, Nov 28th, 2023

Rep. George Santos will face expulsion again this week and predicts he’ll be ousted

Rep. George Santos will face expulsion again this week and predicts he’ll be ousted
Rep. George Santos will face expulsion again this week and predicts he’ll be ousted

Santos has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to the federal charges. On the social media site X, Santos said he told Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., he would be “standing for the expulsion vote,” and warned his colleagues that they would be setting a bad precedent if they ousted him before he goes to trial in September.

Santos said Tuesday evening that Johnson had “made a point to say that he was not calling me to ask me to resign” and asked if he’d made a decision about facing potential expulsion.

“I said yes. I mean, put up or shut up at this point,” Santos said.

Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., who was in a leadership meeting with Johnson on Tuesday evening, said the speaker told other Republicans about the call. “It’s our understanding that the speaker and George have had conversations up until recently even an hour ago, about the right thing possibly to do for him will be to examine the position and resign,” Hern told reporters after leaving the speaker’s office.

Asked if Johnson encouraged Santos to resign, Hern clarified: “He did not say that. He said that that would be certainly an option that would prevent a lot of people from having to take some very tough votes.” 

In modern times, the House has expelled just two members, but only after they were convicted of federal crimes.

“Expel me and set the precedent so we can see who the judge, jury and executioners in Congress are,” Santos said on X.

The precedent argument is not resonating with some lawmakers. Former Ethics Chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., voted against expulsion earlier this month to give her former panel time to complete its wide-ranging report. But she said in a lengthy statement Tuesday that she was now prepared to expel Santos given that the report was detailed in nature and backed unanimously by the bipartisan Ethics panel.

“Precedents of the House are important guidelines to ensure proper, consistent actions,” Lofgren said. “But every precedent had a first time, and precedents should not prevent the House from acting when prudence dictates the creation of a new precedent or a variation from precedent.”

“In the matter of Rep. Santos,” she added, “rigid adherence to the requirement of a felony conviction prior to expulsion would, in essence, delegate the responsibilities of the legislative branch to the executive and judicial branches.”

Santos’ team is also making the argument that Republicans who support his ouster will undermine the GOP’s already razor-thin majority and could risk a government shutdown when funding for some agencies runs out in mid-January and the rest lapses in early February.

“The Santos team is confident the House GOP will not compromise the critical work of funding the government by testing the strength of an already tenuous margin for majority,” said one congressional GOP source.

Speaker Johnson, who declined to comment about Santos on Tuesday, already doesn’t have much wiggle room to pass legislation. Republican Celeste Maloy of Utah will be sworn in Tuesday night, filling the seat left vacant after GOP Rep. Chris Stewart resigned. With Maloy sworn in, the House will be back at full capacity with 435 members — 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats.

If Santos is removed, that would lower the GOP majority back down to 221. Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, said he will leave Congress in a few months to accept a new job as a college president. That would lower the majority to 220.

If any other Republicans resign early, that narrows the majority even further. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has said he will not resign and that he intends to serve out his full term. But if he did leave early that would make Johnson’s job managing the conference even more difficult.

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