If an effort to expel George Santos comes to the House floor, it’s looking increasingly likely that it will succeed.
Unlike previous attempts to remove the embattled New York Republican, the latest push led by Ethics Committee Chair Michael Guest (R-Miss.) could actually hit the two-thirds vote threshold. About 80 House members, both Democrats and Republicans, have indicated either publicly or to POLITICO that they plan to change their vote in favor of expelling Santos after reviewing the damning findings of the Ethics report released Thursday.
Nearly 60 House Republicans tell POLITICO they now plan to vote for his removal, with about half of those releasing public statements to that effect. Only eight GOP members said that they would still vote against such an effort, with others still reviewing the ethics report or weighing their decision. If all Democrats vote for his removal, then roughly 80 GOP members would need to support his ouster to pass the measure.
And the number of members in support is ticking up.
“Rep. George Santos has proven that his ethics do not align with what we expect from our leaders. In light of the Ethics Committee report, I will vote to expel him from Congress for his illegal and unethical behavior should he choose not to do the right thing and resign,” Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa) announced Friday in a statement.
A GOP leadership aide, granted anonymity to speak bluntly, predicted: “He’s f*cked.”
Those numbers are already more than double the 24 House Republicans who previously voted to remove Santos earlier this month. Many Republicans expect Santos may still have some support in the right flank of the party, where he has worked to build allies after he was ostracized by the broader rank-and-file members earlier this year. And other members aren’t thrilled about the prospect of further narrowing their slim majority.
A spokesperson for conservative Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) on Thursday told POLITICO he does not intend to vote to expel, citing “other pressing issues in Congress than this.”
The ethics report Thursday found “substantial evidence” of Santos’ criminal wrongdoing, including accusations that he padded his own pockets with campaign money, falsely reported personal loans to his campaign and failed to properly file his financial disclosure forms.
Across the aisle, 46 Democrats had previously voted either present or against booting Santos from Congress, but 21 of those members now confirm to POLITICO they plan to vote in favor of expulsion. Some, like Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), had voted “present” on the last vote because of their roles on the Ethics panel, but with the report now public and their investigative work wrapped up, she said in a statement: “I intend to vote yes on any expulsion resolution brought against the Congressman.”
Others, like Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) expressed reservations about removing Santos before the Ethics or the criminal investigation concluded and had voted “present” previously. But after seeing the report, she said in a statement to POLITICO: “I believe he should no longer be in Congress. If there is a vote to expel Rep. Santos, I will support it.”
House Democratic leadership hasn’t publicly weighed in yet on the expulsion resolution, but Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has repeatedly called Santos “unfit” for office. And Speaker Mike Johnson is urging members in both parties to “consider the best interests of the institution as this matter is addressed further,” according to his spokesman Raj Shah, who said the Louisiana Republican found the report’s findings “very troubling.”
Some members have continued to cite Santos’ due process as they consider whether to expel him. He faces 23 charges in federal court, and his trial is scheduled to begin in September.
However, Santos may still resign before his fate is put to the ultimate test on the floor.
He has announced a press conference slated for Nov. 30, two days after the House is set to resume business following the Thanksgiving break. That came shortly after he separately announced on social media that he would not seek reelection next year, though he signaled he would finish this term.
The POLITICO Congress team contributed to the whip count efforts.