George Santos to step down from House committees

George Santos
Image caption,George Santos has admitted that large portions of his biography were fabricated
Republican Congressman George Santos will step down from serving on committees in the US House of Representatives. The 34-year-old has faced growing calls to resign after he admitted fabricating parts of his resume and biography since his election in New York last year. He was assigned to serve on two committees despite the controversy. He informed colleagues of his decision at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, the BBC’s US partner CBS reports. Mr Santos reportedly said he would step aside temporarily until his name is cleared and apologised to fellow Republicans for being a “distraction”. It means Mr Santos will not sit on the small business committee or the science, space and technology panel. The latter oversees non-defence issues related to scientific research and development. He had previously billed himself as “the full embodiment of the American dream” – an openly gay child of Brazilian immigrants who rose to the upper echelons of Wall Street before entering the world of politics. But following his election in the November midterms, Mr Santos’ life story began to unravel after various US news outlets uncovered a series of falsehoods. He eventually admitted that large portions of the biography he had shared with voters were untrue. He is also facing multiple investigations over his campaign spending and financial reports.
  • BACKGROUND: The George Santos scandal
Several fellow Republicans said they agreed with Mr Santos’ decision to remove himself from the assignments. “Without the ethics investigation being complete, I think it’s the right decision,” New York Republican Michael Lawler told the Washington Post. Mr Lawler had previously called on Mr Santos to resign. It comes one day after a meeting on Capitol Hill between Mr Santos and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in which – according to Mr McCarthy – Mr Santos asked if he could remove himself from the committees. The top ranking House Republican had previously declined to take any action against Mr Santos. In a televised interview with CBS on Sunday, he said Mr Santos had a right to serve on committees. Last week, two New York Democratic Representatives – Gregory Meeks and Joe Morelle – wrote a letter to Mr McCarthy in which they said the “serious concerns” raised by the allegations warranted blocking Mr Santos from having access to classified information. “The numerous concerning allegations about his behaviour over decades put his character into question, and suggest he cannot be trusted,” they wrote.

Republicans hope to calm the waters

Almost a month into the new session of the US House of Representatives, George Santos’s serial fabrications of his record, along with legal questions involving the financing of his campaign, continue to bedevil the Republicans who are now in control of the chamber. This move is likely part of an effort by Mr Santos and House Republicans to turn down the heat they’re feeling both from the public and their own party – without taking the step to remove him from office or having him quit. Mr Santos’s decision could help calm the waters – or at least prevent the circus that surrounds him from spilling over into committee activities, where Republicans trying to get down to the business of passing legislation do not want unnecessary distractions. On the floor of the House, however, Mr Santos’s participation is still important. With the narrow majority the Republicans have in the House of Representatives, every vote counts. The Republican leadership is already struggling to corral support to address priority issues like immigration and crime. Losing Mr Santos, and risking that he is eventually replaced by a Democrat, is still an unacceptable risk – for now. Instead, they may be hoping this half-measure gives them some space to let the interest die down to a manageable level. If it doesn’t, however, they could eventually decide the political pain is worth tolerating to end what has proven to be an unexpectedly persistent headache.

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