U.S. Rep. George Santos recused himself on Tuesday from the House Science, Space and Technology and Small Business committees in the midst of continuing public interest in his questionable past, as well as ongoing investigations about how he financed his successful November campaign.
The embattled Republican — who represents a district that includes the North Shore — confirmed in a statement he notified House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of his decision the day before.
“Without the ongoing attention surrounding both my personal and campaign financial investigations, I have submitted a request to Speaker McCarthy that I be temporarily recused from my committee assignments until I am cleared,” Santos said. “This was a decision that I take very seriously. The business of the 118th Congress must continue without media fanfare. It is important that I primarily focus on serving the constituents of New York’s 3rd Congressional District, and providing federal level representation without distraction.”
What Santos is giving up is significant, according
to state Sen. Jack Martins, because those responsibilities in committees are significant. It’s where the work is done, where members debate and advance bills, and review legislation pertaining to what may be crafted for consideration by the full House.
“It’s equivalent to cutting school and showing up for graduation,” said Martins, who has joined other Republicans in demanding that Santos resign. “You have to put your time in in the committees where you actually do work. Santos wants to collect the pay and be a member of Congress, but not work. He’s not doing his job.”
Former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, who defeated Santos in the 2020 election, said there are several responsibilities entrusted to members of Congress. They need to work on their assigned committee to become experts so they can draft legislation. They are obligated to hold hearings, and they need to dive deeply into specific areas. They also must be a conduit to the various needs of their constituents — whether they be individuals, businesses or local government — to navigate the federal bureaucracy and obtain resources.
Receiving one’s fair share from the federal government is paramount.
“But you also need to be involved in other matters beyond your community jurisdiction to influence policy and affect change and vote on legislation,” Suozzi said. “Based upon this recent action and reports about failure to deliver constituent services and lack of personal relationships with colleagues, it seems as if Santos is confining himself to only one of the roles — to vote on legislation.”
Robert Zimmerman, the Democrat who ran unsuccessfully against Santos in November, said not working on committees makes the congressman unfit to serve.
“His district office is not functioning,” Zimmerman said. “Citizens are not receiving services. He should be expelled. Republican leadership in Congress and the members there who refuse to expel him are accomplices to his crimes.”
Santos’s problems began last December before he was sworn into office when The New York Times published an exposé detailing inaccuracies about the then congressman-elect’s education, work experience and personal past. A week later, Santos admitted to “embellishing” aspects of his education and work experience.
Josh Lafazan, who lost in the August Democratic primary race for the seat to Zimmerman, says he believes the decision to vacate his committees was not one left to Santos.
“It was probably McCarthy who told him to,” the Nassau County legislator said. “The fact that he is a pariah among his own caucus shows his days are numbered. This is the beginning of the end.”
Santos did not belong on the Small Business Committee, Lafazan said. His district has many small businesses — many which need federal assistance — something the lawmakers says Santos would not have been able to deliver.
“George Santos serving on the committee was a slap in the face to those who need representation,” Lafazan said. “It was an abomination he was placed on that committee in the first place.”
Santos won’t get a pass for leaving the committees, Martins said.
“This is what the other fictionalized character was elected for. That he walks away is an indication of who George Santos is.”