WASHINGTON, Nov 1 (Reuters) – The vote to expel Republican lawmaker George Santos from the U.S. House of Representatives failed on Wednesday, when less than two-thirds of the chamber supported the resolution, preserving Republicans’ narrow majority (221 votes against 212).
The 35-year-old New York lawmaker pleaded not guilty charges accusing him of crimes including laundering money to pay for personal expenses, illegally collecting unemployment benefits and charging donors’ credit cards without their consent.
Former Santos campaign treasurer pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 on a conspiracy charge for inflating fundraising numbers.
“I must warn my colleagues that voting in favor of expulsion at this stage would circumvent the justice system’s right to due process to which I am entitled and would desecrate the long-standing principle that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. on the contrary,” Santos said before the press conference. vote.
Expelling a lawmaker requires a two-thirds vote of the chamber. Only five people were expelled of the House in the nation’s history, three for fighting against the U.S. government during the Civil War.
Santos represents a small part of New York City and part of its eastern suburbs. Nonpartisan election forecasters said Democrats could have won back the seat.
Republican lawmakers in New York state, where Santos is based, said last month they would introduce a resolution to expel Santosbut that decision was delayed for several weeks when the House was without a leader following the ouster of Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Republicans on October 25 elected Mike Johnsonwho said he did not support expelling Santos for being charged with a crime, to succeed McCarthy.
Santos was mired in controversy shortly after winning elections last year, when he was accused of fabricating much of his biography on the campaign trail.
“Mr. Santos is a stain on this institution and is unfit to serve his constituents in the House of Representatives,” Anthony D’Esposito, one of the Republican lawmakers behind the resolution, told the Bedroom.
A trial for Santos is scheduled for September 9, 2024, shortly before elections that will determine control of the White House and both houses of Congress.
The House Ethics Committee also said it was looking into allegations involving Santos. The investigative subcommittee contacted 40 witnesses, reviewed more than 170,000 pages of documents and authorized 37 subpoenas, the committee said.
The ethics committee said it would announce its next steps by November 17.
Separately, on Wednesday, the House, in a bipartisan vote of 222 to 186, rejected a resolution to censure Democratic U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib after her speech at a rally calling for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced the resolution on Oct. 26, accusing Tlaib of “anti-Semitic activity, sympathy for terrorist organizations, and leading an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol complex.”
Greene’s resolution referenced a peaceful protest at a House office building, during which hundreds of protesters were arrested. Tlaib did not participate in this demonstration.
Tlaib, in a statement, called the resolution “deeply Islamophobic.”
Green sparked bipartisan condemnation in 2021 after comparing masks intended to combat the spread of COVID with the badges that Nazi Germany forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust.
Report by Makini Brice; Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis, Lisa Shumaker and Diane Craft
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