WASHINGTON — The House voted on Wednesday night to refer a Democratic-sponsored resolution to expel Rep. George Santos, RN.Y., to the Ethics Committee.
By referring the matter to the House Ethics Committee, which has been investigating Santos since early March, Republicans for now avoided a vote on the resolution itself, which was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Robert Garcia, a Democrat. for california.
The reference, approved Wednesday in a vote of 221-204, required only a simple majority to pass. No Republicans voted against the motion and seven Democrats voted present, including all five Democratic members of the ethics panel.
After the vote, Santos said he believed the chamber had made “the right decision” and that he intended to defend himself.
“I look forward to seeing how the process unfolds,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “And if the Ethics Committee finds a reason to remove me, that’s the process.”
Santos said he has not yet appeared before the panel.
As Santos spoke to reporters, Reps. Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both DN.Y., could be heard taunting him.
“You have to go!” Bowman repeatedly yelled at him and also told him to “quit.”
Santos proceeded to yell at the two Democrats, telling reporters that he could no longer speak because “there is a deranged member here.”
Because the ouster resolution was privileged, Republican leaders had to schedule a vote for Thursday. House Majority Leader Tom Emmer, R-Minnesota, sent out a notice Wednesday telling lawmakers they would vote on a motion to refer the resolution to the ethics panel around 5 p.m.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California. —Who said last week that he would not back Santos’ re-election bid—said late Tuesday that he preferred the benchmark approach rather than a plenary vote to expel Santos from Congress.
Garcia called McCarthy’s approach “an escape” at a news conference Wednesday morning. “This is already in the Ethics Committee,” Garcia said. “We want a real vote on expulsion.”
Rep. Dan Goldman, DN.Y., a former federal prosecutor, suggested that the Ethics Committee would not act on the ruling and instead refer it to the Justice Department, which last week charged Santos with a 13-count indictment. .
“Prosecutors are going to ask the Ethics Committee to pause and let their prosecution come first,” he said. “That’s what I did for 10 years. That’s the nature of how these things work. And traditionally, the Ethics Committee will refer to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, and Kevin McCarthy knows that.”
Goldman said the tactic was a way for Republicans to avoid being held accountable for the removal measure.
Last week, Santos pleaded not guilty in a Long Island court to the federal indictment unsealed by the Justice Department. He was loaded with 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, according to the Justice Department. He is due to appear in court again on June 30.
Santos, who previously admitted that he lied about his background, called the charges “Witch huntand said he would not quit.
In March, the Ethics Committee opened an investigation that it said would determine whether Santos “engaged in illegal activities in connection with his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to adequately disclose the required information about the statements filed with the Chamber; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role with a company that provides trust services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct toward a job seeker in your congressional office.”
zoe richards, ryan nobles, Alexandra Cod and frank thorp contributed.