WASHINGTON, DC - In a historic move, freshman representative George Santos was expelled from Congress on Friday, by a significant majority of both Democrats and Republicans in the United States House of Representatives. George Santos' expulsion from Congress is a historic event, as he joins the ranks of only six representatives who have ever been expelled from the esteemed legislative body. What makes Santos' case even more extraordinary is the fact that he is the only Republican among these six individuals. The list of expelled representatives includes John B. Clark and John W. Reid from Missouri in 1861, Henry C. Burnett from Kentucky in 1861, Michael J. Myers from Pennsylvania in 1980, and James Traficant from Ohio in 2002. Santos' expulsion marks a significant moment in American political history, highlighting the severity of the findings by the House Ethics Committee regarding fraud and misuse of campaign funds. While this expulsion carries great significance, this article aims to shed light on the broader implications it has for not only the constituents of New York's 3rd District but also for the entire nation.
The removal of Santos poses a challenge for the House Speaker, particularly when it comes to passing bills in the near and long term. Every bill that comes to the House floor for a vote, including crucial issues like government funding, support for Israel and Ukraine, and addressing border concerns, will now become even more difficult for the new House Speaker to navigate. This may potentially delay progress in finding solutions to the pressing problems facing the country.
The crux of the issue lies in the math. Prior to Santos' expulsion, the Republicans held a majority in the House, with 222 members compared to the Democrats' 213. However, in order to pass a Republican priority bill, the House Speaker would need 218 votes in favor, assuming all Democrats vote against it. With a four-vote margin to spare, the Speaker could afford to lose four Republican votes and still pass their priority bill.
However, with Santos' departure, the Republican majority has now decreased to 221, while the Democrats remain at 213. In this scenario, if the House Speaker aims to pass a Republican priority bill, assuming all members are present and no Democrats vote in favor, they still need 218 votes. This leaves them with a much narrower margin of only three votes.
Clearly, this presents a significant challenge. The Speaker's short-term problem is the difficulty of securing three votes instead of four. However, there is also a long-term problem to consider. By law, a special election must be held to fill Santos' vacant seat. Historically, this seat has been held by Democrats for the 20 years prior to Santos' victory in 2022. Additionally, since 2008, the district's residents have voted for Democratic presidents. This raises the possibility that the Republican seat could flip to a Democratic seat, potentially leaving the Republicans with 221 members and the Democrats gaining an additional seat, bringing their total to 214.
These challenges pose a significant hurdle for the new House Speaker and the Republicans in exercising their majority power. As they strive to navigate the complexities of passing legislation and maintaining their influence, the expulsion of Representative Santos has undoubtedly created a more difficult path forward.
Santos, who has had an extremely controversial year in his role as a freshman congressman and had become known as somewhat of a pathological liar by both Republicans and Democrats alike. The House Ethics Committee voted to investigate Santos over several allegations, including engaging in "unlawful activity" during his 2022 campaign, not disclosing required information, violating federal conflict of interest laws, engaging in sexual misconduct, and more. Santos faced federal charges, with his former campaign staffers pleading guilty to wire fraud and other crimes.
The House Ethics Committee released a report concluding that there is "substantial evidence" of Santos violating federal criminal laws. Despite Santos' refusal to resign, his colleagues in the House pushed for his expulsion, resulting in his removal from Congress.
The expulsion of George Santos not only highlights the consequences of unethical behavior by elected officials but also raises questions about the challenges it poses for the functioning of the House. As the nation watches the aftermath of this historic event, the focus now shifts to the House Speaker and the Republicans as they grapple with the implications of Santos' departure.