Why is George Santos still in Congress?


U.S. Rep. George Santos perpetrated an enormous fraud on the voters in New York’s 3rd Congressional District. He lied about his life story, faked his academic and professional credentials, misled the public about his heritage and the cause of his mother’s death and falsely claimed connection to the Holocaust, the Pulse Nightclub massacre, the Sept. 11 attacks, and animal rights advocacy, to appeal to specific segments of voters.
These were not accidental misstatements, exaggerations or embellishments, but rather the purposeful defrauding of NY-03 voters — Republicans and Democrats alike. The unspooling of Santos’ lies over many months has been fodder for late-night comedy and international media interest. By now, everyone knows that he doesn’t belong in Congress. So why is he still there?
As the federal charges against Santos continue to mount, and more of his associates plead guilty to crimes they committed together, Santos has refused to resign or to agree to a plea deal. Unfortunately, he won’t go on trial until next September. So the only way to restore meaningful representation to the 700,000-plus residents of NY-03 is to expel him from Congress.
The Constitution permits the House to expel a member, and there is no limit on that authority, except that it requires a two-thirds majority. But expelling a member of Congress is momentous, with only five expulsions from the House of Representatives in the history of our country. Therefore, as a practical matter, Congress would need a reason to take this extraordinary action. We believe that Santos’ unprecedented, admitted fraud to get elected should be that reason.
But members of Congress have not been uniformly in favor of Santos’ ouster. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy refused to expel Santos in order to protect his narrow majority, and the new speaker, Mike Johnson, has indicated the same sentiment. Others are concerned that expelling Santos could encourage political abuse of this weighty constitutional provision.

In May, a Democratic-led effort to expel him failed when every Republican chose to protect the party’s slim majority by voting to bury the Santos mess in the House Ethics Committee, where it had already languished for months. But on Nov. 1, a second Resolution to Expel Santos was brought to the House floor for a vote, this time by Republicans. The final tally was 213 opposed to expulsion, and 179 in favor. Twenty-four Republicans voted to expel Santos, and 31 Democrats voted against expulsion. Nineteen representatives voted “present,” and 22 were absent.
Many Members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, say they will vote to expel Santos once the House Ethics Committee report is in hand. The committee has announced that its report will be issued by Nov. 17. Therefore, constituents of the 3rd District expect Congress to again vote to expel Santos before the end of November, and we expect both parties to whip votes so that the resolution passes this time. Congress owes it to the people of NY-03 and the country to bring integrity back to the House. It’s long past time to oust Santos from Congress.

Jody Kass Finkel, of Great Neck, is the founder and coordinator of the nonpartisan group Concerned Citizens of NY-03, which was formed in January, with the sole mission of having George Santos expelled from Congress.