A significant event unfolded in the U.S. House of Representatives this Tuesday, a scene that hasn't been witnessed since 2002.
Democratic Representative Robert Garcia filed a privileged resolution to expel fellow House member George Santos.
Rep. Garcia's resolution, if passed, would result in the ousting of Republican Representative George Santos of New York. Santos, who was elected to the House in November 2022, is now accused of filing false Federal Election Commission reports, misusing campaign funds, and breaching ethics laws.
Just a month after Santos was sworn into the House in January 2023, the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into his activities. The culmination of this probe was a scathing report on Santos, released on November 21, 2023.
Following the release of the Ethics Committee report, Rep. Michael Guest, the Committee Chairman, filed a non-privileged resolution to expel Santos. Guest's effort, however, was superseded by Garcia's privileged resolution, which now forces a vote on Santos' expulsion within two legislative days.
While Santos has faced scrutiny since his election, the resolution by Garcia marks a significant escalation, potentially leading to his removal from Congress.
Under the rules of the House, a privileged resolution such as the one filed by Garcia requires a vote within two legislative days. This means that the House must vote on the issue of Santos's expulsion by Thursday.
The last time a member of the House faced expulsion was in 2002. Rep. Jim Traficant, a Democrat from Ohio, was ousted following a series of felony convictions.
Unlike Traficant, who was expelled only after convictions and a subsequent ethics investigation recommended expulsion, Santos hasn't had the opportunity to defend himself in court on any charges. However, the vote on his expulsion is pressing ahead.
The Ethics Committee's investigative report, released in late November, detailed a litany of potential violations by Santos. These ranged from filing false reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to misusing campaign funds and other ethics law breaches.
Representative Guest, in his statement, emphasized the severity of the findings, advocating for the most stringent measure available – expulsion from the House. Guest stated:
"The evidence uncovered in the Ethics Committee’s Investigative Subcommittee investigation is more than sufficient to warrant punishment, and the most appropriate punishment is expulsion."
As the vote approaches, the atmosphere in the House is charged. The impending vote will not only influence Santos's political career but has the potential to set a robust precedent for future ethical conduct in the House.
The decision to expel a member is not taken lightly. Should Santos be expelled, he will be the first member to face such a fate in over twenty years, marking a significant event in the country's political history.
The outcome of the vote is uncertain. Yet, it is a critical moment that underscores the House's commitment to maintaining its honor and integrity and the lengths it will go to protect these values.