This story was updated at 6:45 p.m.
U.S. Rep. George Santos recused himself on Tuesday from the Science, Space and Technology Committee and Small Business Committee in the House of Representatives. The embattled Republican who represents the 3rd District, which includes the North Shore, confirmed in a statement that 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 Third Congressional District and providing federal level representation without distraction.”
The responsibilities in committees are significant, State Sen. Jack Martins said, because that’s where the work is done, Martins, also a Republican reasoned, where committee 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 reiterated that Santos needs to 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, hold hearings and dive deeply into specific areas. They are also required to be a conduit to their constituents various needs as individuals, businesses and local government to navigate the federal bureaucracy and obtain resources. Receiving one’s fair share from the federal government is paramount, Suozzi said.
“But you also need to be involved in other matters beyond your community jurisdiction to influence policy and effect change and vote on legislation,” he added. “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 August, said not working on committees makes the congressman unfit to serve, among other reasons.
“His district office is not functioning; citizens are not receiving services. He should be expelled,” Zimmerman said. “Republican leadership in Congress and the members there who refuse to expel him are accomplices to his crimes.”
Santos' problems began in December before he was sworn into office when the New York Times published an article detailing inaccuracies about his education, work experience and personal past. A week later the congressman admitted to lying about his education and work experience saying they were "embellishments."
Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, who ran unsuccessfully in the last congressional Democratic primary, said he believes Santos did not make the decision to leave the committees.
“I believe it wasn’t a unilateral move on his part,” Lafazan said. “It was probably McCarthy who told him to. The fact that he is a pariah among his own caucus shows his days are numbers. This is the beginning of the end.”
Santos did not belong on the Small Business Committee, Lafazan continued. The 3rd District, which has many small businesses, needs federal assistance which Santos probably 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.”