House Republicans stand by their decision to oust George Santos even as it cost them a GOP seat: 'You have to have standards'

MSN  19th Feb 2024

Several GOP lawmakers who voted to expel George Santos told Politico they stand by their votes.

"He was unfit to serve," New York Rep. Mike Lawler said of Santos.

Last week, Democrat Tom Suozzi flipped Santos' former seat in a House special election.

After Democrat Tom Suozzi defeated Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip in last week's special election for New York's 3rd congressional district, the razor-thin GOP margin in the House became even narrower.

The special election was triggered by the expulsion of onetime GOP Rep. George Santos, who in December was booted from Congress in a 311-114 vote, with 105 Republicans joining nearly every House Democrat to remove the controversial figure from the lower chamber.

And even though Suozzi flipped the seat blue, the Republicans who backed Santos' ouster said they continue to stand behind their votes.

Rep. Mike Lawler, a Republican who represents a swing district anchored in the suburbs north of New York City, told Politico that Santos himself is to blame for the GOP losing a critical seat.

"I didn't shrink the Republican majority — George Santos shrunk it by his actions," Lawler told the outlet. "I'm sorry, you have to have standards in the halls of Congress. And so I don't regret voting to expel George Santos."

"He was unfit to serve … Sometimes these decisions are bigger than politics," the congressman added.

Santos faces 23 criminal charges tied to alleged wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.

Republicans in New York and Washington sought to defeat Suozzi by tying him to the nation's escalating immigration crisis, but his personal brand on Long Island and his ability to distance himself from President Joe Biden's sagging approval ratings helped him defeat Pilip.

Pilip, a member of the Nassau County Legislature, was a lesser-known figure in the district, but some Republicans — including former President Donald Trump — criticized her for not motivating his MAGA base to vote for her.

Rep. John Curtis of Utah, who's running for the state's open Senate seat this year, told Politico that he stood by his vote to remove Santos from the chamber.

"My vote was not contingent on the outcome of the election. It was based on what I thought was the right thing to do," he told the outlet. "If it was the right thing to do, then the seat doesn't matter."

Republicans like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mike Collins of Georgia, who both opposed Santos' ouster, disagree.

"Don't expel a Republican member of Congress that hasn't been convicted of a crime and is a good vote," Greene told Politico.

Following Suozzi's victory last week, Collins wrote on X: "So who still thinks Republicans helping Democrats kick out Santos was a good idea?"

Santos has criticized the New York Republicans who voted to remove him from Congress.

After Suozzi — who represented the 3rd district from 2017 to 2023 — is sworn back into the House later this month, Republicans will have a 219-213 majority.