Opinion: Santos’ indictment leaves McCarthy in tough spot
New York Republican Rep. George Santos was recently indicted in federal court on 13 counts, including wire fraud, money laundering and lying to Congress. The battle to keep him out of prison has only just begun, and time will tell if he wins.
But his legal woes have stymied House Republican leadership on all fronts, with no hope of escaping the political quagmire unscathed. US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he would not call for Santos’ resignation as he opens a legal defense against a number of charges brought against him.
This follows a pattern that previous lawmakers have faced when facing criminal charges. In fact, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez continues to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee despite being under criminal investigation. He also served in the Senate in a corruption trial in which he was acquitted by jury hanging.
What’s different about Santos is that while House Republican leadership supports his staying in the House, lawmakers, including some Republicans, are vocally calling for him to be ousted.
House Speaker McCarthy’s caucus now holds a very narrow majority of four seats in the House. Sacking Santos would shrink an already narrow lead and make the difficult task of gathering votes even harder. In addition, he won a record 15 votes to determine the Speaker of the House, with Congressman-elect Santos supporting McCarthy’s candidacy on all votes. Santos has, and continues to vote faithfully and specifically on McCarthy’s policies.
Most recently, a Republican-backed debt ceiling bill narrowly passed with the backing of Rep. Santos. Mr. McCarthy’s majority, like his presidency, is at a thin thread, and he can’t afford to lose any votes, let alone MPs. So calling for Santos’ resignation or forcing him to do so is politically unwise for House Republican leadership.
But with the House of Representatives in control looking ahead to the 2024 election, Santos’ indictment would cast a shadow over the entire House GOP caucus. But as big as the newly-elected Republican from the New York area who, like Santos, swapped seats from Democrats to Republicans in 2022, giving the GOP the lead and getting the gavel McCarthy so coveted. No lawmakers were affected.
Those seats, including those held by Mr. Santos, are directly responsible for the tiny majority currently held by Republicans. Still, many of these newly elected representatives are first-terms and remain vulnerable to a Democratic challenge that is sure to materialize.
Santos’ string of alleged lies and conspiracies will undoubtedly be used against every new Republican congressman in New York. Calls for his resignation from the New York Republican Party will be drowned out by Democratic challengers and left-wing organizations aspiring to take control of the House.
This leaves McCarthy looking at current and future political challenges. A clear and undisputed supporter of Autosto Santos, the minority majority is now even more vulnerable. If he is allowed to remain a caucus member, the chances of Democrats retaking the House in 2024 will skyrocket.
McCarthy’s deal to obtain the gavel once again highlights the precariousness of his power, as he now succumbs to Santos’ weakness for malfeasance. Nothing is safe, and the power that underpins the Republican majority remains precarious.
What makes matters worse for the chairman is that he has made it clear to Santos that he has no intention of stepping down and will fight the charges. Like the figurehead of the Republican Party, former U.S. President Donald Trump, Santos’ criminal activities make headlines at a time when the chairman is trying to gain an edge in negotiations with the White House over the debt ceiling. right. future budget. And war costs to Ukraine. It’s an unnecessary distraction that could undermine McCarthy’s negotiating position.
But Santos’ loyalty and unwavering support for the House Republican leadership are beyond doubt. To avoid further embarrassment for Speaker McCarthy, and perhaps himself, Mr. Santos voluntarily resigned from the designated committee after the allegations of lying were exposed. Perhaps just as importantly, he has been a stubborn and consistent voter on issues important to leaders in caucuses, where vote counting is a total mystery.
But his indictment and subsequent belligerence now come at a cost to his caucuses, especially to Chairman McCarthy. McCarthy’s indictment puts him in an untenable position as he faces governance challenges and a tough political climate in 2024.
lie. corruption. prosecution. Santos may be the culprit, but it is the chairman who will bear the brunt of the political ramifications. For a man who has courted Gavel throughout his career, he does or does nothing at a very high price. Now, it all culminates in a man whose tort allegations seem to have finally caught up. This dragnet not only trapped the inevitable target, but also the political fate of the entire caucus, including the man at the top.