Former Rep. George Santos joined a small, infamous club when his peers voted to oust him from the House of Representatives, making him just the sixth member since Congress‘ founding to be removed from his seat.
Lawmakers from both parties voted 311-114 to expel Mr. Santos, passing the two-thirds threshold required for an expulsion vote, despite all House Republican leadership voting to save the disgraced lawmaker. More Democrats, 206, voted for the ouster than Republicans, 105.
Mr. Santos left the House floor on his own accord.
Earlier, he said the historic vote to toss him out of Congress would haunt those who pulled the trigger.
“It sets a dangerous new precedent for the future to come,” he said before the vote. “It’s the demise of this body eventually.”
House Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Guest, Mississippi Republicans, and members of the GOP’s New York delegation — who had tried and failed to boot Mr. Santos — banded together to force the vote this week.
The New Yorkers argued that removing Mr. Santos was not a political play or a move to protect themselves in their toss-up districts.
“I fundamentally believe he’s unfit to serve in public office, whether it was as a dog catcher in his local community or here in the halls of Congress,” said Rep. Mike Lawler, New York Republican.
Meanwhile, detractors against the latest, successful expulsion attempt argued that kicking out Mr. Santos would shatter precedent and open the door for the rare move to be weaponized.
Mr. Santos was immediately stripped of his position and power as a member of Congress. Speaker Mike Johnson, Louisiana Republican, must also order the Clerk of the House to notify New York Gov. Kathy Hochul of the expulsion. From there, Mrs. Hochul has 10 days to announce a special election to fill Mr. Santos‘ former seat.
That seat could remain vacant until late February. Mr. Santos‘ district is considered a toss-up by the Cook Political Report. Republicans, including Mr. Johnson, are trying to ward off salivating Democrats who believe they have a shot at flipping the seat.
The New Yorkers expressed confidence the GOP will retain his seat and relief that Mr. Santos was finally gone.
“We didn’t want to spend the first 11 months [of 2024] talking about George Santos, and I hope today is the beginning of not having to talk about him anymore,” said Rep. Anthony D’Esposito.
Losing Mr. Santos also means the GOP majority falls to 221, four votes over the Democrats. That number will drop when Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio leaves Congress to accept a new job as a college president, cutting the GOP’s margin to three votes.
Prior to Friday’s vote, only five members of Congress had been expelled — three in the 1860s for being members of the rebellious Confederacy and two lawmakers convicted of crimes.
Mr. Santos‘ short, tumultuous tenure as a lawmaker was marred when details surfaced that he fabricated so many aspects of his life, from lying about being a star volleyball player to claiming his mother was killed when terrorists attacked the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
He managed to survive two attempts to boot him from the lower chamber, one in May and the other in October. Members from both parties voted to save Mr. Santos, arguing that he had not been convicted of a crime and raising concerns over the precedent that expelling him could set.
The winds began to work against Mr. Santos just before Congress‘ Thanksgiving break when the House Ethics Committee released a bruising 56-page report that detailed a litany of deceptive practices, like lying to donors and using campaign money to bolster a lavish lifestyle — including buying luxury clothing, getting Botox and subscriptions to OnlyFans.
A searing House Ethics Committee report was considered the death knell for Mr. Santos‘ time in Washington. Dozens of lawmakers who had voted to save him said the report, which outlined fraud beyond what was found in the 23 federal charges against the lawmaker, changed their minds.
Rep. Dan Goldman, New York Democrat, filed the first ethics complaint against Mr. Santos earlier this year and strongly advocated removing him.
“The Republicans have protected him for 11 months, not because they agree with his conduct, not because they think he’s an upstanding person, but because they have put their own political interests over the integrity of the Congress,” Mr. Goldman said.