Thursday, September 28, 2023
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Motion to expel embattled Rep. Santos headed to House committee

The New York congressman has pleaded not guilty to 13 charges including wire fraud and money laundering.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Lawmakers hoping to see New York Congressman George Santos expelled from the House of Representatives will have to wait a little longer, as the lower chamber voted Wednesday to refer the matter to its ethics committee.

Santos, elected in 2022 to represent the Empire State’s 3rd Congressional District, was accused earlier this month of embezzling funds from supporters during his campaign and stealing tens of thousands of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment benefits. Since then, calls have grown among lawmakers to remove the Republican from Congress — which culminated Tuesday in a resolution introduced by California Congressman Robert Garcia that would do exactly that.

Republicans, however, have taken steps to avoid taking a final vote on the measure this week, opting instead for a motion that remands Garcia’s bill to the House Ethics Committee, where it would be subject to further debate. After passing a floor vote 221-204 on Wednesday evening, Santos’ fate now lies with lawmakers on the GOP-led panel, which is already investigating him.

Santos himself voted yes on the motion to remand his own expulsion to the House committee.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has not defended his Republican colleague but told reporters Tuesday that he preferred handing the issue to the ethics panel over voting to expel Santos outright. He urged the committee to move quickly in its investigation.

During a press conference Wednesday, House Democrats urged the GOP to do what they said was the right thing — kicking Santos out of Congress immediately. “There is now an opportunity for [Republicans] to walk the talk and make a vote consistent with their words,” said New York Congressman Dan Goldman.

Despite McCarthy’s more neutral stance, some of Santos’ Republican colleagues joined Democrats in calling for the lawmaker’s expulsion. Fellow New York Congressman Anthony D’Esposito called Santos “a stain on this institution, a stain on the state of New York, a stain on Long Island.”

D’Esposito, speaking on the House floor, argued that referring the matter to the ethics committee would ensure a thorough investigation. “I firmly believe this is the quickest way of ridding the House of Representatives of this scourge on government,” he concluded.

Last week, the Eastern District of New York unsealed 13 criminal charges against Santos, who has pleaded not guilty to each. The lawmaker, who has announced he will seek reelection in 2024, has called the accusations a “witch hunt.”

Santos has not participated on any congressional committees since January, when he voluntarily stepped down from his assignments.

Meanwhile, Santos last week reached a deal with authorities in Brazil related to charges in a separate incident from 2008 in which he was accused of purchasing items in the country using a stolen checkbook.

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Categories / Government, National, Politics

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