House of Representatives members voted to oust New York Congressman George Santos from office on Friday, marking a definitive move in the matter. Santos was facing numerous federal accusations, including serious crimes including conspiracy, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, when this judgment was made.
With 311 in favor, 114 opposed, and 2 abstentions, the expulsion vote was overwhelmingly successful, meeting the two-thirds necessary for approval. The majority of Democrats voted to have Santos removed from office, while 105 Republicans were among those who did the same. At first, the leading Republicans in the House were opposed to this change, but eventually, they came around. Formerly opposed to Santos’ expulsion were Louisiana Speaker Mike Johnson, Louisiana Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Minnesota Whip Tom Emmer, and New York Conference Chair Elise Stefanik. They mainly argued that since Santos had not been officially found guilty of any crime, setting a potentially damaging precedent was a major concern.
Earlier in the week, Speaker Johnson had voiced his reservations about voting to expel, stating that he was worried about setting a bad precedent. Santos faces 23 federal counts, including fraud, abuse of campaign funds, and false statements about his personal finances in House disclosure filings. A prior report from the House Ethics Committee was quite critical of him. All of these allegations have been met with Santos’s not guilty plea.
Being the first such step since 2002, Santos’s expulsion is a watershed moment in House history. Among the six members of the United States House of Representatives to be expelled, Santos stands out as the first to do so in the absence of a criminal record or ties to the Confederacy during the Civil War. Previous expulsions occurred as a result of bribery-related criminal convictions; for example, James Traficant of Ohio in 2002 and Michael Myers of Pennsylvania in 1980.
Santos had earlier this week spoken out against his expulsion, arguing that it would set an unprecedented and potentially disastrous precedent. The expulsion will now be announced to Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul of New York by the House clerk, as per the vote. Since Santos is leaving office less than one year into his tenure, Governor Hochul will have to set a date for a special election to fill the seat that is currently vacant.