Louisiana lawmakers were split on Santos expulsion vote

Published 1:25 pm Saturday, December 2, 2023

Louisiana’s six members of the U.S. House of Representatives split their votes when lawmakers voted 311 to 114 to expel GOP Rep. George Santos of New York from Congress, according to a report by CBS News.

U.S. Reps. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, and Julia Letlow, R-Start, voted to expel Santos. Voting against expelling him were Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-Benton, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, and U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Lafayette.

CNN reported that Johnson expressed “real reservations” about expelling Santos since he has yet to be convicted of a crime. The Associated Press reported that Johnson said he and other GOP leaders wouldn’t push colleagues to oppose removing Santos.

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The speaker said he had heard Republican lawmakers make forceful arguments on both sides.

“We’re going to allow people to vote their conscience,” Johnson said.

Politico Pro reported that Scalise had previously said he opposed removing Santos before conviction at a trial on wire fraud and other counts.

Higgins earlier told The Advocate that Santos was being publicly and unfairly crucified. Higgins said a House Ethics Report on Santos was filled with “conjecture, opinion, and pejorative (slanderous) language.”

A former law enforcement officer, Higgins said no experienced cop would present such an investigative report to a prosecutor for action.

Santos became the sixth member in U.S. history to be removed by a vote of his colleagues. He faced federal charges and what was reported as “a damning Ethics Committee report.” He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and refused to resign.

CBS said 105 Republicans voted to kick him out, and 112 voted against. It added that Democrats were more united with 206 of its members saying he should be expelled. Only two voted against expulsion. Eight House members — three Democrats and five Republicans did not vote. Two Democrats voted “present.”

Article 1, section 5 of the U.S. Constitution says that the House and Senate can expel members if two-thirds of the chamber support doing so. The two-thirds applies to those voting on any given day, not the total number of members, which can fluctuate if seats are left vacant by resignation or the death of a lawmaker, CBS reported.

The magic number for Santos’ expulsion would have been 290, but since eight members missed the vote, the threshold was 285.

The CBS report listed the names of the members who voted for and against expulsion and a list of the eight who didn’t vote.