Rep. George Santos spent what could be his last day in Congress on Thursday striking a defiant stance and taunting those who might vote to expel him.
As House Speaker Mike Johnson punted the expulsion vote for Mr. Santos to Friday, Mr. Santos accused his congressional foes of bullying him and then made a move to expel Rep. Jamaal Bowman from Congress for his conviction for pulling a fire alarm in the Capitol complex.
“If the House wants to start different precedents and expel me, that is going to be the undoing of a lot of members of this body,” Mr. Santos said at a press conference. “Because this will haunt them in the future where mere allegations are sufficient to have members removed from office when duly elected by their people in their respective states and districts.”
Mr. Santos has been rendered persona non grata in Congress for making outrageous lies to voters, getting rebuked by the Ethics Committee and hit with criminal charges of campaign finance shenanigans.
However, his expulsion is far from guaranteed on Friday. It will take a two-thirds majority vote to oust him and some Republicans have vowed to oppose the move on principle.
A few of his Republican peers have come out against expulsion.
Those lawmakers including Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Troy Nehls of Texas and Clay Higgins of Louisiana. They argued on the House floor that voting to remove Mr. Santos goes against the grain of centuries of precedent and circumvents due process.
“I rise not to defend George Santos, whoever he is, but to defend the very precedent that my colleagues are willing to shatter,” Mr. Gaetz said.
Shortly after his election in 2020, Mr. Santos was discovered to have lied to voters about almost everything about his life and his qualifications.
Those discoveries, and ensuing investigations, have led to the lawmaker being hit with 23 federal charges for wire fraud, theft of public funds and money laundering, among others. He has pleaded not guilty and has not been convicted of any crimes.
Only five members of Congress have been expelled from the institution: three for being a part of the Confederacy during the Civil War, and two who had been convicted before getting the boot.
Mr. Santos argued that he would be the only member expelled without a conviction or without committing treason if the vote on Friday was successful.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, New York Republican, counted on the vote to do just that.
“We continually hear that the expulsion of Congressman Santos would set a new precedent, and Mr. Speaker, it would,” he said.
A bruising House Ethics Committee report teed up this third attempt to kick Mr. Santos out of Congress and seemingly changed the minds of dozens of Republican lawmakers who previously voted to save Mr. Santos.
Mr. Johnson has not pressed lawmakers to vote against the bill, instead advising them to vote with their conscience.
Mr. Santos also will get no quarter from House Democrats.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, New York Democrat, called foul on Mr. Santos’ attempt to expel Mr. Bowman — should the disgraced lawmaker be booted, his bill will either die or be picked up by another member.
Mr. Jeffries questioned why Mr. Santos was “still around.” and accused House Republicans of intentionally hiding information on the lawmaker that later became public, like the extensive falsification of his background.
“Why? Because House Republicans needed George Santos’ vote,” Mr. Jeffries said.
Losing Mr. Santos would mean the GOP majority would fall to 221 or just four votes. Republican Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio has said he will leave Congress soon to accept a new job as a college president, which would cut the GOP‘s margin to three votes.