It would take a two-thirds supermajority to remove the New York Republican, but a vote would put members of his party on the record either endorsing or abandoning him after his indictment.
Democrats moved on Tuesday to force a vote within days on removing Representative George Santos of New York from Congress, an attempt to press Republicans to either endorse or abandon a serial liar in their ranks who has been indicted on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, stealing public funds and lying to the government.
The measure has little chance of passage in the Republican-led House, where it would require a two-thirds supermajority to pass. But by bringing it up, Democrats were increasing the pressure on Republicans to register a position on Mr. Santos’s conduct.
“Now is an opportunity to hold him accountable,” Representative Robert Garcia, Democrat of California, said on Tuesday after he rose on the House floor to call up his resolution to expel Mr. Santos from Congress. “The Republicans in the House are actually going to have to go on record and make a decision about if they’re actually going to stand for truth and accountability, or if they’re going to stand with someone that’s clearly a liar.”
Mr. Garcia, who introduced the resolution to expel Mr. Santos in February, told reporters that his decision to move forward with it now had the backing of Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York and the minority leader. Under the rules of the House, the motion is privileged, meaning that Speaker Kevin McCarthy must dispense with it within two days.
With a vote now expected before the end of the week, Republicans could try to sidestep the resolution by moving to table, or kill, it or to delay it — both of which would take the support of a majority of the House.
Even with more than 10 House Republicans publicly calling for Mr. Santos to resign, it is unlikely that the measure would gain the support it needs to pass. But it will force leading Republicans, who have said Mr. Santos should be allowed to continue serving, to decide how aggressively to defend him. It will pose a particularly fraught dilemma for many members of the New York delegation, who for months have made it clear they want Mr. Santos to resign and now will have to decide whether they want to break with their leaders and vote for his ouster.
Since Mr. Santos was sworn in, Mr. McCarthy and other members of House leadership, operating with a slim and fractious majority, have defended his right to serve in Congress despite the falsehoods he told to win election. His wide-ranging indictment this month did nothing to change that, although Mr. McCarthy said he would not support his re-election.
Several Republicans, including members of the New York delegation, have publicly called for Mr. Santos to step down, labeling him a serial fraudster who is an embarrassment to the entire party.
In response to the expulsion resolution, Mr. Santos told CBS News on Tuesday that “Democrats are really good at trying to play judge and jury and trying to hold people guilty before they’ve even been given a free shot at a trial.”
Were Mr. Santos to be forced out, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York, a Democrat, would set a special election to replace him. Already, two Republicans and four Democrats have announced their plans to run for Mr. Santos’s seat in 2024. Mr. Santos has also announced his plans to run for re-election.
Catie Edmondson and Michael Gold contributed reporting.