With the vote Friday in the House of Representatives to expel New York GOP Rep. George Santos from the chamber, these are the next steps expected to take place in Congress and New York state:
In Congress: According to a former House parliamentarian, an expulsion is handled the same as a vacancy, including death or resignation. The House Clerk assumes control of the office and makes decisions on behalf of that office. It will decide how Santos’ office is cleared out, among other steps. His district office remains intact for constituent needs.
Special election looms in New York: The House Clerk informs the governor of New York that there is now a vacancy in the third district of New York. It is then up to Gov. Kathy Hochul to schedule a special election to replace him. New York State law stipulates that the governor make a proclamation of a special election within 10 days, with an election occurring “not less than seventy nor more than eighty days” following the proclamation. Hochul, a Democrat, said Friday she is prepared to fill the vacancy and slammed Santos, saying "he has not served" the people of New York. Read more about the race for Santos' seat here.
However: There is some fungibility. Following the resignation of GOP Rep. Tom Reed, neither the 10-day nor the 70- to 80-day parameters were followed in scheduling a special election. Additionally, the House – and New York – are expecting a second House vacancy with the upcoming resignation of Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins, who announced he would step down in February, and Hochul could opt to pair those special elections.
Santos retains certain privileges: Unlike previous modern-day expulsions – of Democrat Michael Myers in 1980 and Democrat Jim Traficant in 2002 – Santos has not been convicted of a felony. House rules stipulate that until there is a conviction, Santos retains some privileges as a now-former member of Congress, including access to the House floor, dining room, gym and cloakroom but not security.
The expulsion resolution could have stripped Santos of those privileges, but there is no clause in the motion to do that. Both Traficant’s and Myer’s privileges were stripped immediately following the expulsion vote because they had been convicted of their crimes.
But that could change: The House makes rules changes all the time regarding privileges for former members. Privileges were stripped for former members during the Covid-19 pandemic, and floor privileges are usually restricted for former members for the State of the Union address. Should Santos 1) be expelled; and 2) continue to exercise the privileges as a former member, it's expected a rules change would come to address that issue.
Remember: Apart from the Ethics Committee investigation, Santos has also pleaded not guilty to 23 federal charges, including allegations of fraud related to Covid-19 unemployment benefits, misusing campaign funds and lying about his personal finances on House disclosure reports.