Why George Santos is sticking around (for now)

Why George Santos is sticking around (for now)

As soon as Wednesday, the House will battle over proposed punishments for three of its most polarizing members. One of this week’s votes will mark a test for new Speaker Mike Johnson, who will have to corral Republicans to oppose a resolution that would further slim down his four-seat majority by expelling Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.).

A group of New York Republicans, led by Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, is pushing this week’s privileged resolution to expel the indicted Santos, whose politically toxic fabrications have bogged down his delegation-mates in their efforts to hold onto swing districts.

Santos’ GOP critics — including fellow New York Republicans Nick LaLota, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro, Nick Langworthy and Brandon Williams — are now trying to put their political distance from him on the record. This time, as they’d hoped, they may be getting help from new Republican allies.

One GOP lawmaker told Olivia of a likely vote to join New York colleagues in voting to remove Santos. This Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity, signaled a desire to help shield battleground-seat members whose reelections are threatened by the scandal-plagued Santos.

But the New York Republicans will need to get dozens of colleagues to join them in order to reach the two-thirds support needed to expel Santos from the House. And that’s a pretty steep climb – particularly since Johnson has indicated that he doesn’t support booting Santos before the New Yorker stands trial on the dozens of charges that he has pleaded not guilty to.

Santos’ trial on his latest set of federal charges isn’t set to start until September, meaning that a verdict might not come until close to the 2024 election. Given that Santos has multiple GOP opponents in a primary race that will end earlier next year, he may also face little incentive to leave Congress after that verdict comes down.

But Santos isn’t the only target in this week’s dueling House votes.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib faces censure over her stance on Israel’s drive to defeat Hamas, particularly her outspoken advocacy for ending Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. That push is being led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and must come to a vote within two days of introduction, which likely sets up a Wednesday vote. Only a simple majority of the House is needed to pass it.

Greene’s resolution argues that Tlaib’s support for a pro-ceasefire protest in a House office building, which was organized by Jewish-led groups, amounted to an “insurrection.” Although some in the party were outraged at Tlaib for her outspoken criticism of the Israeli government, the harsh language in Greene’s measure makes it unlikely that many, if any, Democrats will vote yes. Democrats will likely move to table it as soon as it comes up.

And Greene herself faces a censure vote that Democrats unleashed after she moved against Tlaib — citing the Georgia conservative’s past flirtations with antisemitic tropes and comparison of vaccine mandates to the Holocaust. The Democratic-controlled House had voted to strip Greene of her committees during the last Congress over controversial remarks and actions.

That’s not all: Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) has introduced a resolution to censure Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) for pulling a fire alarm during a vote for a funding bill last month. A person familiar with the censure told POLITICO that McClain’s measure is taking the normal course through committee, but Republicans hope there is action on it soon.

Bowman has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for triggering the false alarm and agreed to pay a fine.

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