Editor’s note: Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-N.Y.) is a member of the Congressional Equality Caucus. An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information.
A group of House Democrats unveiled a resolution on Thursday to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) from Congress, citing the long and growing list of résumé fabrications that have defined his first weeks on Capitol Hill.
“This is not just a simple liar,” Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-N.Y.) told reporters on the steps of the Capitol. “This is a conman who does not belong in Congress, and he needs to go.”
Sponsored by Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), the proposal has little chance of getting a vote in a chamber controlled by GOP leaders who are defending Santos’s right to keep his seat. But Democrats are hoping the measure will draw new attention to the embattled lawmaker, link the broader GOP to Santos’s many scandals, and force Republican leaders to stand by their opposition to his removal even as the questions surrounding his background and campaign finances pile up.
“We’re going to send the clear message that if [Speaker] Kevin McCarthy [R-Calif.] refuses to hold George Santos accountable, we will,” Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) said.
Torres was flanked by the other sponsors of the resolution — Reps. Garcia, Goldman, Becca Balint (D-Vt.) and Eric Sorensen (D-Ill.) — as well as a staffer holding a sign listing some of Santos’s most prominent transgressions. All are members of the Congressional Equality Caucus, which promotes LGBTQ rights, and they’re taking special umbrage with Santos’s lies about employees dying in the 2016 mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando.
“His continued pattern of fraud and deception is especially worrisome to our own LGBTQ+ community, and it’s time we act and immediately expel him from Congress,” Garcia said.
Santos was part of the red wave that hit New York during the November midterms, picking up the Nassau County seat vacated by Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), who retired, and helping Republicans win a slight House majority in the new Congress. In the process Santos made history, becoming the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat without the advantage of incumbency.
Yet Santos has come under intense scrutiny following a New York Times investigation that raised questions about the accuracy of the life history he had boasted on the campaign trail. Santos had, at various times, told voters that he’d graduated Baruch College; worked with Citigroup and Goldman Sachs; and managed a small, family-based real estate empire. He also claimed that his mother died in the 9/11 attacks and his grandparents had fled the Holocaust — both of which have been refuted by more recent reports.
Throughout the saga, McCarthy has defended Santos’s right to remain in Congress, emphasizing that he won his election fair and square.
“You know why I’m standing by him? Because his constituents voted for him,” McCarthy told reporters late last month. “I do not have the power, simply because I disagree with somebody on what they have said, that I will remove them from elected office.”
The single-page resolution leans on the constitutional clause empowering each chamber to “punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.”
The two-thirds stipulation is a high bar, requiring 290 lawmakers to adopt the measure if it were to reach the floor. That means Democrats would need almost 80 Republicans to jump on board — an unlikely scenario as long as GOP leaders continue to back Santos.
House Democrats, even from the minority, could tap special procedural moves to force the resolution to the floor. But House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) has been cold to that idea, saying last month that Santos’s fate is “an issue that Republicans need to handle.”
On Thursday, Jeffries blasted Santos as a “total fraud,” but declined to endorse the expulsion proposal.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to look at the precise language connected to the resolution,” he said. “I can only imagine what it says, and it certainly speaks for itself.”