The House voted down efforts to censure Rashida Tlaib and expel George Santos

The House voted down efforts to censure Rashida Tlaib and expel George Santos

The House voted to toss a series of disciplinary votes Wednesday, with Republicans crossing the aisle to table a measure censuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and both sides rejecting a motion to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.).

Censures and motions to table only require a simple majority, but an expulsion vote has a higher two-thirds majority threshold.

The failure of the Tlaib censure resolution led Democrats to pull back on their effort to censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) over her past flirtations with antisemitic tropes and comparison of vaccine mandates to the Holocaust.

In a statement, Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.), who’d sponsored the Greene censure, said the Republican votes to table the Tlaib censure had convinced her to back off for now.

“Tonight, when 23 Republicans said ‘no’ to Rep. Greene’s bigotry, I saw this situation a little differently. I want to thank them for doing the right thing. And I’m going to hold back on the vote for now,” she said.

The measures, which had threatened to kick off a tit-for-tat among both parties, had presented an early leadership test for Speaker Mike Johnson, who was tasked with holding together his fractious conference in his first weeks in office. The privileged measures all came to the House floor by a fast-track process that bypasses committees and don’t require the explicit blessing of party leadership.

Here’s what just happened: 

The House also tabled a measure censuring Tlaib: She faced a censure vote Wednesday, but the chamber voted to table it 222-186. A group of 23 Republicans including conservatives who had raised free speech concerns and members of the Michigan congressional delegation joined all Democrats to sink the measure.

That vote stems from Greene’s allegations that Tlaib’s support for a demonstration seeking a ceasefire in Gaza — a protest that was led by Jewish groups in a House office building — amounted to an “insurrection.” (Democrats decried the move for creating a false equivalency to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault.) The inflammatory language in the resolution and Greene’s authorship of the measure meant that no Democrats ultimately voted for it.

Tlaib, for her part, had denounced the censure effort as “unhinged.”

An effort to expel Santos fizzled: The House also rejected an effort to expel Santos by a 213-179 vote, with 19 lawmakers voting present.

The expulsion vote came after an effort by several Biden-district New York Republicans to oust their colleague, whose indictment and ample fabrications about his background have created political problems for the entire Empire State GOP.

Yet, the vote may still be a win for the vulnerable Republicans by giving the chance to go on the record and distance themselves from Santos after multiple reports revealed he fabricated his background and resume and as he faces roughly two dozen federal charges. Democrats have vowed to hitch the lawmakers to their scandal-ridden colleague.

While Santos has pleaded not guilty to charges ranging from wire fraud to falsifying records to identity theft, his GOP colleagues, particularly his critics, largely believe the courts will ultimately find him guilty. His court case is expected to start shortly ahead of the next House election.

Following the vote. he told reporters: “It was very frustrating to see that people are just trying to silence my vote.”

The notoriously slow-moving House Ethics panel gave some lawmakers an escape hatch before Wednesday’s vote, saying Tuesday it would announce its next actions by Nov. 17, when the stopgap government funding bill is set to run out. A previous Democratic-led effort to expel Santos was punted to the panel.

The group of Republicans who spearheaded the Santos expulsion push vowed to try again once the Ethics panel acted, with Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) telling reporters: “We’ve built a decent base of votes to ultimately get the two-thirds, hopefully, after the Ethics Committee publishes their findings.”

Expulsions are still a rare punishment in the House. Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) was the last lawmaker to be expelled after he was convicted on federal corruption charges in 2002.

Jordain Carney contributed to this report

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