The Republican Representative George Santos of New York announced Tuesday that he will temporarily resign from both of his congressional committees, a move that comes amid a series of ethics issues and a day after meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Santos has faced numerous calls for his resignation and faces multiple investigations by prosecutors into his personal and campaign finances and lies about your resume and family history .
Santos was assigned to two rather low-profile panels, the House Small Business Committee and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Still, his arrival has left Republican leaders frequently answering questions about the congressman rather than his priorities for the coming months.
In a prepared statement, Santos said he wanted to focus on serving his constituents "without distractions."
“I want to personally thank Chairman McCarthy for meeting with me to discuss the matter and allowing me to take the time to properly clear my name before I return to my committees,” Santos said. "To my constituents, I remain committed to serving the district and achieving results for both the Third Congressional District of New York and the American people."
Before issuing the statement, Santos addressed Republican lawmakers in a closed-door weekly meeting they hold when they are in Washington. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said the decision was welcomed by the Republican conference. “I think it was the right thing to do and I was proud of him for getting up and doing this,” Cole said.
McCarthy met with Santos Monday night but did not disclose their conversation.
"You'll see," McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill.
The questions surrounding Santos go beyond his misrepresentations to voters and include whether his campaign in Congress complied with the law in reporting to the Federal Election Commission. There have been lingering questions about irregularities in his campaign committee's financial reports and the origin of Santos' wealth.
If the Santos campaign is found to have knowingly and knowingly made any “materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation” in its documentation, it could face criminal charges, the FEC said in a letter to the campaign last week.
Republicans described Santos' decision to temporarily withdraw from both House panels as voluntary. Rep. Roger Williams of Texas, chairman of the House Small Business Committee, said he was surprised.
“The bottom line is that he chose to be out of committees until his situation is handled at a level that he is comfortable with,” Williams said.
Democrats have been very critical of Santos and with McCarthy for his efforts to oust three Democratic lawmakers from committees, while at the same time backing committee appointments for Santos, who lied so much to his constituents about his background.
“Hypocrisy just grabs you by the throat,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. “This is a Republican speaker who is sitting a human fraud, George Santos, in committees, a serial manufacturer over every part of his existence.”
McCarthy prevented Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., from being reelected to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, although they will be able to serve on other committees. He also vowed to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, though such a move would come up for a vote in the full House, where Democrats would no doubt renew questions about the convenience of allowing Santos to sit on committees as their members are removed.
McCarthy has little room for error if he decides to go ahead with his expulsion for comments McCarthy has described as anti-Semitic regarding Israel. Shortly after Omar entered Congress in 2019, the House passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, without mentioning his name, after he made comments critics say accused Israel supporters of having double loyalty.
At least two Republicans have said they will not vote to remove Omar from the foreign affairs panel. They said Democrats were wrong to remove Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., from their committees two years ago. And the Republicans were making a similar mistake when it came to Omar.
“It's just wrong,” said Rep. Ken Buck, Republican of Colo. Let's stop ruining this place. Let's do better."
But McCarthy seemed to be winning over some Republican skeptics. Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., previously said that "two wrongs don't make a right" when it comes to ousting Omar. She issued a statement Tuesday reversing course and saying she would support an impeachment resolution after McCarthy expressed her willingness to add due process provisions.
“I think setting a precedent by allowing an appeals process for House speaker and majority party impeachment decisions is particularly important for freedom-loving legislators who are typically on the receiving end of issues like this,” Spartz said.