WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Tuesday awarded embattled Rep. George Santos, RN.Y., seats on two House committees, even as he faces federal, state and local investigations and his fellow Republicans are demanding he resign.
The GOP Steering Committee, which is led by Chairman Kevin McCarthy and distributes committee tasks, voted to give Santos seats on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Small Business Committee, which are two of the panels lower profile on Capitol Hill.
Small Business Chairman Roger Williams, R-Texas, confirmed Santos’ appointment to his panel. Two GOP sources said Santos would also serve on the science committee.
“I don’t agree with what [Santos] said, did and everything. I’m not okay with any of that, okay? It’s wrong,” Williams said in a phone interview Tuesday. “But at the same time, he’s on the committee, we’re going to have rules to follow. He represents about a million people in New York and a lot of big issues on the street.”
Asked if Santos would be a distraction for his committee, Williams replied: “He’ll only be a distraction for those who want to distract.”
“We’re going to have a lot of work to do and we’re going to do some good things, and he’s going to be a part of that. And if there are questions, we’ll answer them… If they think [Santos’s controversy] It’s going to be the main thing that comes out of the committee, they’re really going to miss the boat.”
Some Republicans, including Main Street Caucus Chairman Dusty Johnson, RS.D., had argued that Santos should not sit on any committee after he admitted to embellishing and lying about important aspects of his personal biography when running for office. Congress last year.
Members of both parties expressed concern about Santos having access to classified information through a committee item. A House Republican who frequently handles classified documents and information told NBC News last week that Santos “probably shouldn’t be on Intelligence” or the House Armed Services Committee, specifically suggesting that the Small Business Committee is a safer place to sit the freshmen.
Given the slim four-seat Republican majority, McCarthy and his leadership team back Santos, even as the speaker promised the freshman lawmaker would not be given a seat on any higher “A” committees, such as Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce or Financial Services.
On Tuesday, McCarthy said the decision to award Santos seats on the committee was made by the Steering Committee and that he did not make that decision alone. When asked why Santos received two committee assignments, McCarthy said that was standard protocol.
“Every member of the Republican Conference has two unless they are in [an] Committee ‘A’, then you only have one. Y [a] number of people has three,” McCarthy added.