Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The vote on Friday to expel former Representative George Santos, Republican of New York, from Congress was an overwhelming rebuke from his colleagues, including many members of his own party.

Nearly every Democrat voted to kick out Mr. Santos after a federal indictment on fraud charges and scathing report by the House Ethics Committee detailing accusations of wrongdoing and a pattern of lying about nearly aspect of his life.

Republicans were more divided. Speaker Mike Johnson, still just weeks into his tenure, and members of his leadership team voted to save Mr. Santos, concerned about further winnowing down the party’s slim House majority. They joined with some of the same hard-right rebels who often revolt against them, in an unusual alliance that sought to keep the serial liar in their ranks.

But the party’s moderates and mainstream conservatives, many of whom feared the political repercussions of being associated with Mr. Santos, were quick to cast their votes to oust a man they viewed as a stain on their party.

Republicans on the House Ethics Committee — Michael Guest of Mississippi; David P. Joyce of Ohio; John H. Rutherford of Florida; and Andrew R. Garbarino of New York — joined with their Democratic counterparts in voting to oust Mr. Santos.

These Republicans, led by Mr. Guest, were most familiar with the evidence against Mr. Santos and condemned his conduct in no uncertain terms.

Most of the Republicans in the New York delegation voted to expel Mr. Santos, including Representatives Nick LaLota and Anthony D’Esposito, who led the charge to oust him. They long argued that his presence in their delegation was an embarrassment to the state party and hurt their chances for electoral success in 2024.

Many mainstream conservatives or Republicans from competitive districts outside New York voted to oust Mr. Santos. These members, including Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, the Republican co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, and Representatives Don Bacon of Nebraska, Juan Ciscomani of Arizona and John Duarte of California, who are politically vulnerable, were disgusted at Mr. Santos’ presence in the chamber and owe little to their leaders.

Mr. Johnson, the speaker, had made no secret of his desire to keep Mr. Santos in Congress, citing concerns about creating a new precedent in which members could be ousted without a criminal conviction.

He also acknowledged the political reality of his tiny Republican majority, which allows him to lose no more than a handful of votes from his own party on any piece of legislation, and which made the prospect of losing a precious G.O.P. vote unpalatable.

Other members of his leadership team, including the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 House Republicans — Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Tom Emmer of Minnesota and Elise Stefanik of New York — also voted to save Mr. Santos.

Their arguments found favor with dozens of other Republicans who generally vote with leadership.

The far-right rebels in Congress, better known for taking down spending bills and antagonizing their leaders, this time found themselves on the same side. Some of the most far-right members of the House, including Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Clay Higgins of Louisiana and Troy Nehls of Texas, stood with Mr. Santos.

These members, who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results on Jan. 6, 2021, said it was unconscionable for Congress to defy the will of the voters who elected Mr. Santos. They also relied on the argument that Mr. Santos had been convicted of no crime, arguing that his ouster would set a dangerous precedent.

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