Democrats have backed a push to expel Rep. Jorge Santos (RN.Y.) from the House of Representatives. Santos, who became a first-time congressman, had huge construction His personal and professional life came to light shortly after his election in November 2022. Earlier this month, Santos was indicted on 13 separate crimes, including fraud, campaign finance violations and a scheme to defraud the federal government of COVID unemployment relief funds in 2020. Santos combatively insisted on his innocence. Can he escape the scam? Here’s how similar incidents have played out in history.
While the architects of the Constitution didn’t fully anticipate that political parties would shape our politics, they nevertheless implemented prohibitive supermajority requirements for the removal of Congress. The dangers of partisan expulsions were on full display this year in Tennessee, where Republicans used their legislative majority to expel two representatives from Nashville and Memphis from the state house on fraudulent grounds. And because parties almost never have a two-thirds majority in either chamber, expulsions have been very rare.
The vast majority of expulsions from the US Congress occurred between 1861 and 1862, when the House expelled three and the Senate expelled 14 members from states that had joined the Confederacy, effectively vacating their seats. Had given There have only been two evictions in either chamber since the Civil War: Rep. Michael Myers (D-Pa.) for accepting bribes during the FBI’s so-called ABSCAM sting operation in 1980, and Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) in 2002 following allegations of corruption and bribery.
Other members of Congress accused of serious misconduct have either resigned before possible removal, Like Representative Bob (R-Ohio), or stormed out until he was either acquitted or subjected to lesser discipline, such as a “severe warning” that the Senate Ethics Committee handed down Sen. Robert Torricelli (DN.J.) in 2002, or “rebuke” given David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) in 2020 for campaign finance abuse. Torricelli later resigned anyway, fearing that the scandal would cost the Democrats his Senate seat. have survived other unsuccessful prosecutions as well, Involved Sen. Bob Menendez (DN.J.). members have almost always Resign after conviction if he had not already done so.
On May 16, Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) introduced a “privileged” motion to expel Santos, a rarely used maneuver. forced vote Within two days after introducing the resolution, Garcia said at a press conference, “Republicans now have a chance to demonstrate to Americans that a convicted felon should not serve in the House of Representatives.” House Republicans voted to refer Santos’ conduct to the House Ethics Committee, which launched a congressional investigation into the conduct. 204 Democrat voted against referral to the Ethics Committee, meaning the party was largely united in its effort to have Santos thrown out of the chamber immediately. But behind closed doors, senior Democrats Express Upset with the strategy, fearing the precedent of expelling a member on a party-line vote before the investigation was complete.
Two main factors are working against Democrats’ plan to expel Santos before federal legal proceedings or a House Ethics Committee investigation. The first is that the GOP has an extremely narrow majority in the House, and is unlikely to remove a member of their caucus unless there is greater pressure to do so, despite the overwhelming evidence of misconduct against Santos. Is. The very narrowness of his majority is another reason why House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and his allies are likely to give more time to Santos. Republicans currently hold a 222-213 majority in the chamber, meaning they only have four votes on many pieces of legislation. And for McCarthy, losing Santos could mean losing his job as speaker – Santos was one of his supporters on the final roll call vote for speaker in January, a tally McCarthy won. just one vote,
If Santos is convicted, however, even Republicans fearful of his agenda will vote to expel him, even though it will likely mean losing the seat to Democrats. McCarthy Where is Even though he no longer supports removal, he will support a move against the new congressman if he is found guilty in court or found to have violated the law by the House Ethics Committee. The seat of Santos, New York’s 3rd Congressional District, voted for President Biden by more than 8 digitsAnd even before the scandals, it was going to be a top Democratic pickup target in 2024. with the democrats dramatic over performance In the special elections so far this cycle, he would have a very good chance of holding onto the seat.
However, many Republicans consider Santos to be such a troublemaker and a maker of enough bad publicity, that they would be happy to see him go, even if it narrowed the party’s room for maneuver in the House. Fellow New York Rep. Mike Lawler called Santos’s behavior was “disgraceful and shameful” and that “he should resign.” But because there is no law preventing him from doing so, Santos may very well continue to serve until he is convicted in a court of law, which may not happen until next year. . If he refuses to resign after conviction (there is also No rules He needs to do so), it may fall to House Republicans to join with their counterparts in expelling him.