The House’s Unprecedented Actions: McCarthy’s Removal and Santos’s Expulsion

by Andrew Wright
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House Expulsion Politics

In a year filled with surprising twists and turns, the House of Representatives has etched its name into the annals of history in ways that were unimaginable for the Republican Party when they first assumed control. Notably, they made two remarkable decisions that have reshaped the political landscape.

The first seismic shift occurred when Republicans, in a historic move, voted to remove their own Speaker, Kevin McCarthy. This was a decision without precedent in the House’s long history. However, it pales in comparison to the second, even more extraordinary event that transpired on a Friday: the expulsion of indicted GOP Representative George Santos of New York.

Never before had a House majority cast a vote to evict its own Speaker, and the last time the chamber had expelled a member who was charged but not yet convicted of a crime was during the tumultuous era of the Civil War. These decisions have unleashed a whirlwind of events, making the past eleven months a tumultuous period marked by infighting, eroding congressional powers, and a noticeable impact on the fundamental functions of governance.

As the year draws to a close, House Republicans find themselves at a critical juncture, entering a new era characterized by performance politics and turbulent governance, showing no signs of stabilizing. In the words of Republican Representative Mike Lawler, one of the key figures in Santos’s ouster, “Is it messy? Yeah, sure. But when you’re actually governing in a democratic republic, it can be messy.”

In many respects, George Santos embodies a novel approach to governance, one that rewards individuals with strong, charismatic, and often extreme public personas over those who engage in the quieter, behind-the-scenes work of governing the nation. Rather than shying away from the spotlight, Santos, who faces accusations of fabricating substantial portions of his life story, embraced his moment in history, further adding to his celebrity status within Congress.

Before the crucial vote, Santos conducted a lively press conference on the steps of the Capitol, candidly addressing questions about his future (he had no plans for reelection) and the legality of his campaign-funded footwear (which he claimed were several years old). He vigorously defended himself against what he termed “bullying” and decried the “smear” campaign against him.

“This is my battle,” Santos asserted before a throng of cameras, acknowledging that he might have handled things differently. He doubled down on his personal narrative, portraying himself not as the alleged fraudster he is accused of being but as the representative of New Yorkers who elected him to Congress. He argued that it should be these constituents who decide whether he remains in office.

“I came in here as a mad-as-hell activist who was just disenfranchised,” he declared. “I leave here, no regrets.”

Santos’s rapid ascent in politics as an outsider, partly modeled after Donald Trump, reflects the dynamics of this postmodern political era, highlighting the power of a single lawmaker to achieve fame merely for the sake of being famous. He was part of a diverse cohort of younger freshman lawmakers who were reshaping the Republican Party. His celebrity status skyrocketed, especially after revelations exposed outrageous embellishments about his background, experience, and family heritage.

In essence, much of Santos’s life story appears to have been fabricated. A damning House Ethics report cited “overwhelming evidence” of wrongdoing by Santos, including questionable campaign expenditures such as Botox treatments. Santos has pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to duping donors.

His swift downfall underscores the GOP’s readiness to turn against its own, even when it is politically advantageous, even if it means jeopardizing another dependable vote from their already slim majority, which is now on shaky ground due to retirements.

However, the decision to expel Santos generated division within the Republican ranks, mirroring the earlier split over McCarthy’s removal as Speaker. Some, like Representative Nick LaLota of New York, deemed the expulsion of Santos “righteous and necessary,” asserting that it was vital to claim the party’s commitment to accountability.

Conversely, Trump ally Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, who orchestrated McCarthy’s ouster, led a faction of Republicans defending Santos’s right to a fair day in court.

The roll call vote became a litmus test for the new Speaker, Mike Johnson, who encouraged lawmakers to vote according to their conscience, signaling that there was no preferred party position.

During the two days of heated debate, there was a moment when it appeared that Santos might survive the expulsion effort. However, in the end, even the supportive votes from party leadership were insufficient, and more than the required two-thirds majority in the House voted in favor of his expulsion.

Time is running out for other essential year-end legislative business, including passing the annual spending bills necessary to prevent a government shutdown. The specter of shutdowns has loomed all year, and the next funding deadline is set for January 19.

Speaker Johnson has informed lawmakers that their next order of business will involve a vote to formally authorize an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden, focusing on the business dealings of his son, Hunter. While a vote could come as early as next week, the House, now down a Republican member, faces uncertainty regarding whether it will muster enough votes for this historic impeachment proceeding.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about House Politics

Q: Why was Kevin McCarthy removed as Speaker of the House?

A: Kevin McCarthy was removed as Speaker of the House due to internal divisions within the Republican Party, which led to a historic vote to oust him from the position.

Q: Why was George Santos expelled from the House of Representatives?

A: George Santos was expelled from the House of Representatives because he faced serious charges, although he had not yet been convicted. This expulsion marked a significant and rare move in the history of the House.

Q: What impact did these actions have on the Republican Party?

A: These actions, including the removal of McCarthy and the expulsion of Santos, have caused significant upheaval within the Republican Party, highlighting internal divisions and reshaping the party’s dynamics.

Q: How did George Santos respond to the allegations against him?

A: George Santos vigorously defended himself against the allegations, holding a press conference and maintaining his innocence. He framed himself as a representative of his constituents and embraced his celebrity status.

Q: What is the significance of the vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden?

A: The vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden is a noteworthy development, but its outcome remains uncertain. It indicates ongoing political turmoil and could have far-reaching implications for the political landscape.

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