WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fate of embattled New York Congressman George Santos was decided earlier today in the House of Representatives.
Shortly after 11:00 a.m., the House voted 311-114 to expel the Long Island Republican. A two-thirds majority was required.
Once it was clear he did not have the votes to remain in Congress, Santos left the chamber- before the gavel of Speaker Mike Johnson (R- LA), making it official- got in a vehicle and did not have anything to say to reporters on his way out.
This was the third vote to expel Santos, but the first since a scathing report released by the House Ethics Committee. The report exacerbated momentum to expel Santos who faced a growing list of ethical violations, concerns and even federal indictments in recent months.
Since the third resolution to expel was brought forward earlier this week, Santos staunchly defended himself. A major component to his defense was the fact that the previous five members who have been removed from Congress were all convicted on charges brought against them.
“Are we to now assume that one is no longer innocent until proven guilty, and they are in fact guilty until proven innocent? Or are we now to simply assume that because somebody doesn’t like you, they get to throw you out of your job,” said Santos earlier this week in a floor speech.
In a press conference before today’s vote, Long Island lawmakers and constituents of Santos said this isn’t about conviction, it’s about right vs. wrong, morality and about being honest with those you were sent to represent.
“George Santos violated not only the rules of the House, but every moral standard that this House has ever had. The integrity and the reputation of this House are being denigrated every single day that George Santos is here,” said Rep. Daniel Goldman (D- NY) in a Friday morning press conference.
“We’re here to tell you the will of the constituents is to remove this fraud. Over 80 percent of us, that’s both Democrats and Republicans as polled, want him gone. It’s not a partisan issue. It’s a right and wrong issue,” said Susan Naftol, a Long Island resident and Santos constituent.
Today’s vote is historically significant and politically significant. Although Santos is the sixth member to be expelled from Congress, he’s the first to be expelled without being convicted of the charges brought against him.
The vote is also significant from a political standpoint. Many Republicans did not align with House GOP leadership to keep Santos in Congress. Santos had support from leadership, including Speaker Mike Johnson, who has repeatedly expressed concern about the precedent removing Santos would set.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul has ten days to set a special election for Santos’ seat. The election must occur before the end of February.