House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he hopes that a new effort to oust indicted Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) goes to the same place as the first one — a House committee.
The California Republican told reporters Tuesday he would like to see the latest expulsion resolution introduced by Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) referred to the Ethics Committee when it comes up for a vote, which could happen as soon as this week.
“I would like the Ethics Committee to move rapidly on this. I think there’s enough information out there now that they could start looking at this and I think they could come back to Congress probably faster than a court case,” McCarthy told reporters after returning from a meeting at the White House about the debt ceiling.
I'm starting the process of forcing a floor vote on our resolution to expel George Santos from the U.S. House of Representatives. Republicans will now have a chance to demonstrate to the American people that an admitted liar and criminal should not serve in Congress. pic.twitter.com/GLmskqnier
— Congressman Robert Garcia (@RepRobertGarcia) May 16, 2023
The only problem? Ethics already has an expulsion resolution on its plate. A previous proposal, also from Garcia, has languished in the committee since being referred there in February.
Though McCarthy said this time will be different, Garcia had already speculated that such a move could happen as a way to block an up-or-down vote on whether Santos, who was indicted last week, should remain in Congress.
“Speaker McCarthy has obviously empowered George Santos on a variety of votes. He’s given his keys away to folks like George Santos and Marjorie Taylor Greene,” Garcia said, referring to the far-right Republican congresswoman from Georgia.
Unlike in February, Garcia used a procedural move this time, making his new resolution a “question of the privileges of the House” to ensure it would get to the floor. But that won’t necessarily mean Garcia will get an up-or-down expulsion vote.
Referring it to committee, or simply setting it aside by tabling it, would take only a majority vote. Under the U.S. Constitution, expelling Santos would require a two-thirds majority, meaning many Republicans would have to go along with Garcia for him to succeed.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters at a news conference Tuesday.
“This is going to put, particularly, those folks in New York, freshman colleagues of mine, on the record to see if they believe that someone that has admitted to defrauding and to lying should continue to serve in the Congress,” he said.
Historically, only five members have been expelled, according to the Congressional Research Service. Of those, three were expelled for disloyalty in the Civil War era. But two, Reps. Michael Myers (D-Pa.) in 1980 and James Traficant (D-Ohio) in 2002, were expelled in relation to crimes like bribery, racketeering, conspiracy and tax evasion.
McCarthy and other Republican leaders have urged patience on the Santos matter, saying he will go through the legal process and noting Santos has already stepped off of his committees, which is required under House GOP rules for indicted members. McCarthy has, however, said he doesn’t support Santos’ reelection.
Garcia said Santos — who faces charges of money laundering and unemployment benefits fraud, among others — should have left or been kicked out of Congress in February.
“He should be expelled. I believe he should have been expelled when we introduced the resolution a couple of months ago,” Garcia said.
“It’s very clear that he’s a liar, he’s a fraud.”