Monday, February 26, 2024

The House of Representatives, fresh off nearly a month of paralysis and Republican infighting, is starting its first legislative week back consumed by a round of partisan blame-laying and institutional strife.

Using the most severe tools at lawmakers’ disposal, the House is set to consider a trio of disciplinary measures that have divided members, mostly along partisan lines. There is a Republican-written resolution to expel Representative George Santos, the New York Republican who has been indicted on charges of fraud, stealing public funds and identity theft.

Republicans are moving to formally censure Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan and the only Palestinian American member of Congress, whom they accuse of “antisemitic activity.”

And Democrats want to censure Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia and the sponsor of the measure targeting Ms. Tlaib, charging her with antisemitism as well, and of promoting “racist rhetoric and conspiracy theories.”

All the measures are “privileged” under House rules, meaning that they have special status that requires that they be speedily acted upon and are not subject to the power of party leaders who normally control what legislation is considered when.

Representative Anthony D’Esposito, Republican of New York, last week filed the resolution against Mr. Santos, which seeks to deliver the ultimate penalty in Congress for unethical and potentially illegal conduct. The decision came after Mr. Santos’s latest federal indictment, which totals 23 charges tied to financial fraud and other criminal schemes related to his 2022 campaign.

The effort is supported by four additional New York Republicans: Representatives Nick LaLota, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro and Brandon Williams.

“I think there are scores of Republican votes to both expel and override any votes to table,” Mr. LaLota told reporters before the measure was introduced.

But Speaker Mike Johnson, who emerged last week from the bruising G.O.P. brawl as the party’s new leader in the House, has said he does not support the effort to cast out a fellow Republican. To do so, he noted, would erode his already tiny, four-seat majority. The measure requires a two-thirds majority to pass, an unlikely outcome if Republicans follow his lead.

Moments after the expulsion resolution was read into the record last week, Mr. Santos made clear he would not resign, saying on X, formerly Twitter, that he was “entitled to due process and not a predetermined outcome as some are seeking.”

Earlier this year, Representative Robert Garcia, Democrat of California, led an effort by Democrats to expel Mr. Santos but Republicans referred the resolution to the House Ethics Committee, effectively killing the measure.

Representative James A. Traficant Jr. was the last member removed from the chamber in 2002 after being convicted on multiple counts of bribery, racketeering and corruption. Typically, disgraced lawmakers resign before the House can expel them.

Lawmakers also could vote as soon as Wednesday on the pair of censures — a form of rebuke a step below expulsion once reserved for the most rare circumstances but now seen more frequently — aimed at Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Greene.

Ms. Greene’s measure to punish Ms. Tlaib focuses on comments the Michigan Democrat has made about Israel and Gaza as well as her participation in a pro-Gaza rally last month at the Capitol, where she accused Israel of committing genocide.

Though some Democrats are deeply uncomfortable with some of Ms. Tlaib’s comments, most seem unlikely to support Ms. Greene’s resolution. Many Republicans are expected to back it, but it was not clear if it would pass.

Hours after reading the resolution on the House floor, Ms. Greene found herself the subject of a censure sponsored by Representative Becca Balint, Democrat of Vermont. It seeks to condemn Ms. Greene for a litany of grievances it calls “vile and hateful behavior,” citing her past antisemitic statements and embrace of conspiracy theories, and her praise and defense of those charged with storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Republicans are expected to oppose it, and minority Democrats are unlikely to have the votes to push it through.

A third censure was introduced and referred to committee last week to condemn Representative Jamaal Bowman, Democrat of New York, for pulling a fire alarm in a House office building while House Democrats were attempting to stall for time to allow them to examine proposed legislation to avert a government shutdown that was to happen in hours. Bowman has agreed to plead guilty to a false fire alarm charge and pay a $1,000 fine.

Mr. Johnson has declined to weigh in on any of the censures, telling reporters on Monday: “We’ll see what happens.”

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