Rep. George Santos is facing growing calls to resign after he repeatedly lied about his background. Here are six ways his debacle could end.
- Rep. George Santos lied about his education, work history, and more while on the campaign trail.
- He's now facing pressure to resign from Republicans in New York and Nassau County.
GOP Rep. George Santos lied to voters on the campaign trail about key aspects of his background, including his education, work history, and religion. Nevertheless, Santos was duly elected by New York's 3rd congressional district's voters and began serving the first year of his two-year term when he was sworn in last Friday.
Santos has since apologized for the lies about his résumé, which he called "embellishments," but he hasn't been able to escape vitriol and critique from Democrats and even members of his own party. On Wednesday, both the New York and Nassau County GOP chairs called for Santos to resign.
Additionally, fellow New York Rep. Anthony D'Esposito became the first Republican member of Congress to call for Santos to resign on Wednesday.
Santos has firmly rebuffed any calls for him to resign, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he won't ask for Santos to resign and will give him at least one committee assignment. But the freshman congressman's political future is still shaky.
Here are the six ways Santos' situation could resolve itself:
1. The noble thing
Realizing their goals and messages are undermined by Santos' continued presence in Congress, the Republican Party could successfully pressure Santos to resign from office.
It's worth noting that Santos, as it stands, has little incentive to leave office on his own accord — at the moment he's got a prestigious job paying him $174,000 annually. In order to convince him to leave, Republicans will likely need to line him up with another high-paying position or find some other reason to convince him to go.
Alternatively, the GOP could decide that Santos' position is sufficiantly compromised as to merit expulsion, which would require a two-thirds majority of the House to approve, though so far leadership has stuck with the member.
This scenario would lead New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to call for a special election to fill Santos' empty seat, with both parties having a roughly equal chance of winning. Needless to say, this scenario is rather unlikely.
2. The backbencher
Despite calls from both the state and county GOP chairs to resign, Santos could remain in Congress and serve out the rest of his term as a backbencher, or someone with relatively little power or authority in Congress.
McCarthy said on Tuesday that Santos should not be placed on any of the top committees, but he'll still get seated on at least one, so it's likely Santos gets one that doesn't handle classified information.
He'll reliably vote with the GOP on the floor, and while he may run again for office, his odds of winning reelection without support from his local party are slim to none. This outcome appears increasingly likely given McCarthy's stated view of the situation, but McCarthy's own position is, needless to say, tenuous after a razor-thin speaker race.
3. The gadfly
Santos could become a pariah amongst the Republican caucus due to his lies, which the party has trouble seeing past. He'd still likely vote alongside the GOP, but may occasionally bargain out deals with Democrats for specific policy outcomes, perhaps related to issues like the state and local tax deduction, where his wealthy New York district may break with the mainline congressional GOP view.
Republicans hold just a slim majority in the House, and Santos' votes of defection prove to be a major thorn in McCarthy and House Republican leadership's sides as they'll have even more trouble whipping enough votes to pass legislation.
That's an issue — the House will need to vote on a package to raise the debt ceiling in 2023 to avoid defaulting on the nation's debts, which would be disastrous to the country's financial credibility.
4. Leave it to the Department of Justice
Santos has lied over and over again, but nothing he's fibbed over, that we know of, has been unambiguously criminal in nature. But after less than a week in office, three complaints have been filed against him to the Department of Justice, the Office of Congressional Ethics, and the Federal Election Commission, each alleging various degrees of misconduct by Santos.
For example, the complaint with the FEC alleges a $700,000 personal loan to his campaign came from a "shell company" or was a prohibited corporate contribution.
With this in mind, it's possible that Santos has committed a crime and, in the event he is charged, he could lose the support of the rest of his caucus and be pushed out of Congress, or resign of his own volition as many in that position have in the past. This could lead to censure, which could increase pressure to resign, or outright impeachment and explusion, which would guarantee an exit.
The likelihood of this outcome depends on the true severity of the deception.
5. Ignore it
McCarthy and the rest of the Republican party could ignore the incessant attention Santos has drawn to himself hoping the freshman congressman doesn't continue to proverbially shoot himself in the foot. The party could let Santos serve out the rest of his term in the hopes that this scandal blows over and something else takes the media spotlight away from him.
In this situation, Santos would reliably vote with the Republican caucus on bills as a thank-you to his colleagues for ignoring his debacles.
6. The elder statesman
Santos could cruise past this crisis in his early career unrattled, and undeterred, he'd serve out the rest of his term while befriending his GOP colleagues. The Nassau County Republican Committee could realize it has underestimated Santos, reverse course and wholeheartedly supporting Santos' 2024 campaign, which would then easily eliminate competition to the freshman star.
Santos would cruise to reelection election cycle after election cycle, becoming a mainstay in Congress with a longevity that few can scoff at. And as time passes, Santos' earliest campaign lies would become a distant memory, looking irrelevant in the vast career of a remarkable statesman.
Needless to say, this is a rather unlikely outcome for the career of Rep. George Santos.
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