The real George Santos never belonged in Congress in the first place. But Republicans want him to stay as long as possible.
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— News Analysis —
Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is many things (and even more if you believe everything he says): A proven serial liar, recently indicted for a variety of crimes, an alleged sexual harasser, an admitted thief, a congressman who never would have been elected if voters knew who he really was, and a solid GOP vote in the House. On Wednesday, Republicans showed that the last part outweighs everything else.
Faced with the choice of expelling Santos now or keeping him around for a while longer, they unanimously voted for the latter.
Because, in the House GOP’s eyes, the worst thing Santos could do is to leave them with an even slimmer advantage than the four-seat majority they currently enjoy.
The only thing that matters to them is that, for now, he is a vote for the Republican agenda.
Forget that even 71 percent of Republicans think it is likely that the New York lawmaker committed a crime. Forget that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said last week that he would not support Santos if he chose to run again. Forget that many GOP lawmakers have called on him to resign.
Just take Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), who had this to say when asked whether Santos should resign: “Oh, absolutely. It’s a distraction and it’s a punch line for a lot of commentary regarding the Republican Party that we don’t need.”
Or take Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), who tweeted last week that Santos should be “immediately expelled.”
The people of New York’s 3rd district deserve a voice in congress. George Santos should be immediately expelled from Congress and a special election initiated at the soonest possible date.
— Tony Gonzales (@TonyGonzales4TX) May 10, 2023
But, when given the opportunity to do so, Gonzales and every other Republican merely voted to refer the matter of Santos’s expulsion to the Ethics Committee, which was already investigating the lawmaker.
Remarkably, while the Democrats on the ethics panel voted “present,” the Republicans did not. In other words, they bucked existing norms to make sure that Santos stayed in Congress a while longer.
To be fair, the handful of previous instances in which a congressman was expelled were preceded by criminal convictions or an Ethics Committee referral.
However, there has never been a case like this one.
What makes Santos different is that he doesn’t deserve to be in Congress. Sure, depending on your political tribe, you might feel the same way about Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) or Ilhan Omar (D-MN) or perhaps Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
But here is the thing: They were elected by being themselves. Georgians elected a conspiracy-loving QAnon supporter and Californians an 85-year-old with signs of mental decline.
Those candidates didn’t portray themselves as something they were not.
In the case of Santos, it wasn’t the person that he is who got elected but rather a completely different guy he invented. The real George Santos didn’t get any votes.
But he’ll get to stick around so he can cast a few more for the GOP agenda.
Because, if you want to hold the country’s economy hostage in order to advance your political agenda, then a four-seat majority is better than a three-seat majority.
But one thing should be clear: McCarthy and the House GOP now own everything Santos does. Every lie he tells, every staffer he may fondle, every unethical thing he does while in Congress… it’s all on them.
And, going forward, every bill that passes by the narrowest of margins with Santos’s support will be tainted because his is a vote that should not be cast.