Rep. George Santos is facing increasing odds of being expelled from Congress as support grows for a motion to oust him as early as next week. Over 60 lawmakers who previously voted against expelling Santos are now planning to support his expulsion when a bill comes to the floor after the House returns from its Thanksgiving break. Approximately 40 of those lawmakers are Republicans, bringing the total number of GOP lawmakers supporting expulsion to around 60. The remaining lawmakers are Democrats, with about half of the 45 Democrats who previously backed Santos now abandoning him.
Expelling Santos would require a two-thirds vote of the entire House, meaning he would need to lose the support of no more than 80 or 90 fellow Republicans, assuming most Democrats vote in favor of expulsion. However, a few Republicans have publicly stated their intention to vote against expelling Santos. The opposition to allowing Santos to remain in office has significantly increased since the release of a damning report from the House Ethics Committee, which revealed that Santos had misused campaign funds for personal expenses, including luxury goods, vacations, and even the OnlyFans porn site.
While the report did not recommend a specific punishment for Santos, Ethics Committee chairman Rep. Michael Guest introduced a new expulsion resolution, and several committee members have stated they will now vote to expel him. Santos recently announced that he will not seek reelection in 2024, a move that may have been an attempt to secure enough GOP support to remain in office until then.
The effort to remove Santos from Congress has been led by fellow first-term Republican lawmakers from New York, while Democrats plan to use him as an example of GOP corruption during the era of former President Donald Trump, whom Santos praises as a political hero. The position of the Republican House leadership, who have thus far opposed the expulsion effort, remains a key factor in the outcome.
House Speaker Mike Johnson has not taken a definitive stance on Santos since the release of the ethics report, stating that Santos should only be expelled if he is convicted or pleads guilty to a crime. With the GOP holding a narrow nine-vote edge in the House, losing Santos would be a significant blow for the party. If Santos resigns or is expelled, a special election would be called to fill his seat, with Democrats expected to be favored in the race.
In addition to his political troubles, Santos is also facing serious legal issues. He has been charged with a total of 23 federal criminal counts, including alleged campaign finance improprieties and fraud related to a COVID-19 unemployment benefits scam.