Rep. George Santos on Friday was expelled from Congress in an historic vote, following a congressional panel’s findings of substantial evidence of lawbreaking by the New York Republican.
Santos becomes just the sixth lawmaker in U.S. history to be expelled, a advance that takes two-thirds of the House of Representatives. The vote was 311-114.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, will have 10 days to arrange a special election for the seat, according to state law.
That contest could result in Democrats picking up another seat in the narrowly divided House, which Republicans now control with 222 members to Democrats’ 213. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the seat “Lean Democrat.”
A simple majority, or 218 members when no seats are vacant, is required to pass most House legislation.
Santos earlier this month said he would not run for re-election in the wake of a House Ethics panel report. That report said the congressman caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission, and used campaign funds for personal purposes including Botox treatments and luxury goods.
The expulsion vote came amid a busy post-Thanksgiving period for Congress, with lawmakers debating President Joe Biden’s $106 billion funding inquire that includes wartime aid for Israel and Ukraine. Biden is trying to sweeten his pitch for aid for Ukraine by mixing in $14 billion for securing the U.S. southern border in the hope that it will bring more Republicans on board.
Santos on Thursday remained defiant in the face of the looming vote, criticizing his House colleagues and saying he’s watched them “waste the American people’s time over and over again.”
“This will haunt them in the future where mere allegations are sufficient to have members removed from Congress when duly elected by their people in their respective states and districts,” he said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.
It will be up to local party leaders to select special-election candidates. On the Democratic side, former Rep. Tom Suozzi and former state senator Anna Kaplan have announced bids; while Republicans Mazi Melesa Pilip, a Nassau County legislator, and former J.P. Morgan executive Kellen Curry are potential picks for their party, according to Semafor.
Santos is separately facing charges he stole the identities of donors to his campaign and then used their credit cards to ring up tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges.
Expulsion is the sternest form of punishment and has occurred just five times in the history of the House — three times during the Civil War for disloyalty to the Union and twice after convictions on federal charges, most recently in 2002.
Victor Reklaitis and the Associated Press contributed