The Republican-led House of Representatives handed off the decision of whether embattled Representative George Santos will be expelled to the Ethics Committee.
GOP lawmakers defended the lower chamber’s vote on Wednesday to send the expulsion resolution to the bipartisan, 10-member House Ethics Committee, which has been investigating Santos for months.
The New York Republican was hit with a 13-count indictment by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York last week after facing months of scrutiny for lies he spread during his 2022 campaign. On May 10, Santos was arrested, arraigned and released on a $500,000 bond. He’s restricted to travel only between New York and Washington, D.C., unless otherwise allowed in advance.
Santos, whose district includes parts of Long Island and Queens, has faced mounting scrutiny during his brief time in office. Shortly after he was elected in November, reports surfaced that said he fabricated parts of his biography, including his education, employment and ancestry. He initially referred to his lies as “embellishments.”
Newsweek has reached out via email to Santos’ attorney Joe Murray for comment.
Santos, who has been facing calls to resign from office in the wake of the indictment, has continued to maintain his innocence. He vowed to defeat the litany of charges, which include: seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. He called himself the victim of a “witch hunt” during a press conference outside the courthouse last week.
“I’m going to fight my battle. I’m going to deliver. I’m going to fight the witch hunt. I am going to take care of clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that,” he said, also confirming to reporters that he still intends to run for reelection.
Democrats, the minority in the House, managed to force a vote in the GOP-controlled House after California Representative Robert Garcia called the expulsion resolution to the House floor as a privileged one, which requires a vote within two legislative days.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said he wouldn’t support Santos’ reelection bid but has resisted calls for the New Yorker’s ouster, held the vote Wednesday where lawmakers decided by a tally of 221-204-7 to punt the resolution to the committee.
Santos, who voted to send his own expulsion resolution to the ethics panel, issued a statement Wednesday evening.
“I fully respect this procedure as I have the utmost respect for the Ethics Committee as they work diligently to preserve and protect the integrity of this body. I have been and will continue to fully cooperate with the Ethics Committee and their investigation,” he said in the statement shared on his Twitter account.
Republican Representative Anthony D’Esposito said in a statement that he fully supports expelling “the disgusting liar,” and said he was one of the first to call for his fellow New Yorker to resign or be expelled.
“Since we don’t yet have the needed 2/3 supermajority to expel Santos, the quickest way to rid this institution of this stain is to refer this issue to the House Ethics Committee,” D’Esposito said in the statement shared on his Twitter. “I expect the bipartisan House Ethics Committee to move quickly and take the necessary action to rid the House of Representatives of this scourge on our government.”
Representative Nick Langworthy, also a New York Republican, defended his decision to send the resolution to committee, saying it’ll ensure a “swift and proper conclusion.”
In a tweet that shared his statement on the vote, Langworthy refers to Santos as a “con-man.”
“We are one step closer to ensuring con-man George Santos is gone from Congress for good,” he said in the statement.