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Democrats Are Pushing for a George Santos Censure Vote

Democrats are planning to try to force a vote on the issue before the August recess.

Rep. George Santos sits in the House Chambers at the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

A group of House Democrats is pushing to censure Rep. George Santos (New York) following a remarkable series of scandals regarding the Republican’s fabrications about his professional life and potential financial violations.

The effort is being led by Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-New York), who is set to introduce a resolution Monday to censure Representative Santos for “defrauding the people of the United States,” as Torres said in a tweet.

“I have a message to House Republicans who, for too long, have been protecting Mr. Santos, who has disgraced the United States Congress,” Torres wrote. “Stop treating Mr. Santos as untouchable. The time has come for Congress to hold him accountable.”

The vote could come soon, with one senior Democratic aide telling The New York Times the party is planning to force a vote on the issue before the House goes into August recess.

Democrats first attempted to punish Santos in May, mounting a vote to expel him shortly after he was indicted on 13 federal charges of fraud and lying on official documents. The vote failed, with the House instead referring the matter to the House Ethics Committee to investigate.

Censures are largely symbolic, representing a strong rebuke against a lawmaker and little else. The harshest punishment associated with censures is a removal from committee assignments, which isn’t required when a member is censured but is often included in the vote.

The censure vote isn’t likely to succeed. Even though very few Republicans have been outwardly supportive of Santos in an effort to distance themselves from the many allegations against him, they’re still not likely to censure a member of their own party. Further, though Republicans in Santos’s own state have turned against him, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has stood beside the lawmaker.

Still, circumstances between May’s expulsion push and the censure are slightly different, with the House Ethics Committee not yet having put out any findings and a censure needing only a simple majority vote to pass.

“If you are a member of Congress who has informally condemned Mr. Santos, then you should have no trouble formally censuring him,” Torres told The New York Times. “He has disgraced the institution, and the institution should speak with one voice against his misconduct.”

The three-page censure resolution cites Santos’s lies about his college degrees and career, as well as other more bizarre claims, like his lie that he helped produce Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, per the Times.

It does not include charges regarding potential violations of campaign laws, which are still pending. Santos has been accused of multiple counts of wire fraud, theft of public funds and money laundering, as well as making false statements on federal financial disclosure forms.

More revelations on Santos have come out in the months since he was initially charged. Most recently, records released Friday showed Santos spent the majority of the paltry $133,000 he raised during the last quarter for his reelection on repaying the mysterious $700,000 loan he made to his campaign last year, while spending almost nothing on campaigning.

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