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How Republicans split over whether to expel George Santos

US House expels George Santos in Friday vote
Representative Santos became the sixth House member in history to be expelled after a 311-114 vote. (C-SPAN)

WASHINGTON — The vote Friday to expel former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., from Congress was an overwhelming rebuke from his colleagues, including many members of his own party.

Nearly every Democrat voted to kick out 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 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.

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

Here’s a look at how Republicans came down on whether to expel Santos.

New Yorkers, mainstream Republicans and those most familiar with Santos’ case turned against him.

The Ethics Committee

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

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

New Yorkers

Most of the Republicans in the New York delegation voted to expel Santos, including Reps. 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.

Mainstream Conservatives

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

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Republican leaders and the hard right tried to save Santos.

Leadership and Allies

Johnson, the speaker, had made no secret of his desire to keep 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 GOP 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 Santos.

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

Hard-Right Republicans

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 Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Clay Higgins of Louisiana and Troy Nehls of Texas, stood with Santos.

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

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.