House Republicans blocked a resolution aimed at expelling U.S. Rep. George Santos on Wednesday, a week after the newly-elected congressman pleaded not guilty to a 13-count federal indictment.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia presented the resolution to expel Santos from Congress on Tuesday, but the measure failed to pass in a 221-204 party-line vote in which all Republicans voted no. The expulsion of any member of Congress would require a two-thirds majority vote.
U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park), who represents New York’s 4th Congressional District, said he supported expelling Santos from Congress but said referring Santos to the House Ethics Committee was a more effective way to remove Santos since not enough Republicans would vote in support the resolution to expel him.
“Since we don’t yet have the needed 2/3 supermajority to expel Santos, the quickest way to rid this institution of this stain is to refer this issue to the House Ethics Committee,” D’Esposito said in a statement. “I expect the bipartisan House Ethics Committee to move quickly, and take the necessary action to rid the House of Representatives of this scourge on our government.”
Republican officials referred the resolution to the House Ethics Committee, which has been probing Santos’ campaign and financial background since March. House Speaker Kervin McCarthy said on Tuesday he wants the committee to “move rapidly” on the resolution.
D’Esposito has made his desire to have Santos expelled from the House to McCarthy, according to the congressman’s communications director, Matt Capp.
Aside from the House Ethics Committee’s continued probe and decision on how to handle Garcia’s resolution, the Republican congressman faces a federal indictment that could land him in prison for 20 years, if convicted of top charges, officials said.
Santos pleaded not guilty to the 13-count indictment, which includes 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 Congress, last week.
Santos described the indictment and probe into his personal, professional and financial background as a “witch hunt,” according to the Associated Press.
“Any time the federal government comes after you it’s a serious case,” Murray said, according to the Associated Press. “We have to take this seriously.”
His next court appearance is scheduled for June 30, according to NBC News.
The indictment was followed by Santos confessing to forging two stolen checks in Brazil 15 years ago. Court documents in Brazil that were first reported by the New York Times said Santos, 19 at the time, used a fake name and the stolen checks to purchase a pair of sneakers, among other goods from a store in Niterói, located outside of Rio de Janeiro.
Two years later, Santos confessed to the crime and was later charged, according to the Times. He previously disputed those claims, telling the New York Post, “I am not a criminal here- not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world.”
Santos agreed to pay 24,000 reais, or close to $5,000, to the shopkeeper and other charities, according to the Associated Press.
Santos has 30 days to pay the settlement, at which time the case will be dismissed, according to the Washington Post.