It looks certain that George Santos will be expelled from Congress. I could argue that this should have happened a while ago, but in truth it’s better to have some due process. I think that’s satisfied, however, now that the House Ethics Committee has issued a scathing report detailing the Long Island congressman’s mind-boggling behavior and criminality. The report itself made no recommendations on expulsion, but the committee chairman, Rep. Michael Guest of Mississippi, has followed up by introducing a resolution that would do just that.
Additionally, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson has shown no inclination to save Santos, merely stating that members should “consider the best interests of the institution as this matter is addressed further.” In fairness, Republicans in the New York delegation have been clamoring for expulsion and even tried and failed to expel Santos once. But the overriding concern has been to protect the seat.
The Republican majority is going to shrink. The GOP is already down one seat as they await a November 21st special election to replace ex-Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah who quit on September 15. Since the Utah seat is red, that will be remedied before the House returns from Thanksgiving, but losing Santos will leave them shorthanded again, and Santos’s replacement is likely to be a Democrat. Here’s the math:
The GOP has 221 seats and the Democrats have 213. The GOP will briefly go up to 222 when Stewart’s replacement is elected, but fall back to 221 when Santos is expelled. If Santos is replaced by a Democrat, their number will rise to 214. When the House is fully staffed again, it should be a 221-214 split, with 218 votes needed to pass legislation. That reduces Mike Johnson’s margin to three votes, making it even more impossible to do anything without Democratic votes.
I don’t know how quickly Santos’s seat will be filled, but in Stewart’s case the special election was scheduled for a little over two months after he departed. The vote on Santos’s expulsion will take place in early December, most likely, meaning that the special election should be expected around the time the second half of Johnson’s laddered continuing resolution runs out on February 2nd and the government shuts down.
But the Republicans will continue pretending that they can proceed without Democratic votes. Because they can’t stomach reality.