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GOP Rep. Santos recuses himself from committees

Embattled freshman is under pressure for lying about his background and potential campaign violations

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is seen in the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 12.
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is seen in the Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 12. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. George Santos told House Republicans during their weekly conference meeting Tuesday that he won’t serve on any committees while investigations into various allegations against him play out. 

The Republican Steering Committee had recommended Santos, R-N.Y., be seated on the Small Business and Science, Space and Technology Committees. The full GOP conference did not have an up or down vote on Santos’ assignments, as they ratified steering’s recommendations for all committees together.

Santos said in a statement Tuesday that he would temporarily recuse himself from his committee assignments so that congressional business can “continue without media fanfare.”

“With the ongoing attention surrounding both my personal and campaign financial investigations, I have submitted a request to Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy that I be temporarily recused from my committee assignments until I am cleared,” he said, referencing a meeting the two had Monday.

Santos added that he remains committed to serving his constituents in New York’s 3rd District “without distraction.”

There had been some internal discomfort among Republicans about Santos getting to serve on committees, especially as House Republicans seek to remove some Democrats from their assignments. 

McCarthy, R-Calif., removed California Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, which is his prerogative as speaker. Republicans are also planning to hold a floor vote to kick Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., off Foreign Affairs. The GOP has cited national security concerns about all three members based on past comments they’ve made or associations they’ve had. 

But Santos has been under far more controversy for repeatedly lying about his background and for investigations into his potential campaign finance violations.

McCarthy and other top Republicans have said the House Ethics Committee will investigate Santos as well. They have said they want to see the results of that investigation before considering any action against him and have largely expressed deference to the voters who elected Santos. 

“George has voluntarily removed himself from committees as he goes through this process,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik told reporters after the GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning. “But ultimately voters decide.”

Asked if Santos should resign, Stefanik said, “Ultimately voters are going to make that decision, whether it’s in the primary election or in the general election.” 

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