House Republicans have been facing a dilemma with Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), a problematic member who has been accused of fabricating his personal history and is now facing felony charges. While Santos has been an embarrassment to the party, he hasn’t been a significant political liability due to the small Republican majority in the House.
As long as he continued to vote the way they wanted, his peers gave him the benefit of the doubt.
However, the House Ethics Committee recently released a report confirming the accusations against Santos and providing ample evidence of his wrongdoings. This report now serves as a benchmark for his colleagues to remove him from office.
But in reality, if they do decide to remove him, it won’t have a major impact on their voting outcomes this year.
It’s crucial to acknowledge that Republicans were fortunate to have Santos in Congress in the first place. His district voted for Joe Biden by a margin of eight points, and among the representatives of districts won by Biden, Santos is one of the more conservative members.
If his seat becomes vacant, it’s highly likely that it will be filled by a Democrat or a less conservative Republican.
However, despite their narrow majority, one seat doesn’t consistently determine the outcome of important votes. Out of the nearly 670 floor votes this year, only 10 resulted in a tie or came down to one vote.
Only one of those ties directly involved Santos, and it was on an amendment that ultimately didn’t become law. The other seven votes that came down to one vote were on amendments attached to bills that either didn’t pass the House or weren’t considered by the Senate. In two of those votes, Santos didn’t participate at all.
The amendments for which Santos cast the deciding votes were thematically similar, focusing on issues such as weapons procurement, diversity and inclusion offices, climate change executive orders, and funding for various programs. However, none of these amendments were attached to bills that were enacted into law.
Overall, Santos mostly voted in alignment with the majority on non-quorum votes. However, as the year progressed and the pressure on him increased, he has become less reliable in siding with the majority. This diminishes the need for Republican leaders to protect him.
It’s important to note that part of the reason why the bills for which amendments were decided by one vote didn’t become law is due to the Democratic control of the Senate. This partisan divide in Congress minimizes the impact of slightly narrowing the Republican advantage.
In conclusion, while Santos’s removal from Congress may result in a smaller Republican majority and challenges in passing legislation, the overall effect on the House Republican Conference will be minimal. The reality is that Santos wasn’t a significant factor in their voting outcomes this year.