The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Wednesday on whether or not to expel Republican congressman George Santos after he was indicted on corruption charges, a highly unusual move that could erode his party’s narrow majority.
The 35-year-old New York lawmaker on Oct. 27 pleaded not guilty to a 23-count federal indictment accusing him of crimes including laundering funds to pay for his personal expenses, illegally receiving unemployment benefits and charging donors’ credit cards without their consent.
It requires a vote by two-thirds of the chamber to expel a lawmaker. Only five people have been expelled from the House in the country’s history, three for fighting against the U.S. government in the Civil War.
Expelling the first-term lawmaker would further imperil Republicans’ narrow 221-212 majority, as a replacement would be selected in a special election. Santos represents a small slice of New York City and parts of its eastern suburbs, and nonpartisan election forecasters say Democrats could recapture the seat.
Republican lawmakers from Santos’ state of New York said last month they would introduce a resolution to expel Santos, but the move was delayed by weeks when the House was leaderless following the ouster of Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Republicans on Oct. 25 elected Mike Johnson, who has said he does not support expelling Santos for being charged with a crime, to succeed McCarthy.
Santos has been ensnared in controversy since shortly after winning election in November, when he was accused of fabricating much of his biography on the campaign trail.
The corruption charges against Santos also include reporting a false $500,000 campaign loan and lying to the House about his assets.
A trial for Santos is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2024, shortly before the elections that will determine control of the White House and both congressional chambers.
The House Ethics Committee has also said it is 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 panel said it would announce its next steps by Nov. 17.