Dueling House Votes

Politics makes strange bedfellows.

“Sun Going Down on Congress” by SLT

Going in chronological order:

The Hill (“Republicans help torpedo resolution to censure Tlaib over Israel criticism“):

House lawmakers voted Wednesday to torpedo a resolution censuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for her harsh criticisms of Israel in the wake of Hamas’s deadly attacks last month.

The effort required 23 Republicans, joined by all Democrats, to vote in favor of a procedural motion that blocked the disciplinary resolution from reaching the floor. The final tally was 222 to 186.

The vote was something of a surprise: Tlaib, a staunch liberal who’s been harshly critical of Israel, has few fans in the GOP when it comes to Middle Eastern politics. It’s unclear why several Republicans came to her rescue during Wednesday’s vote.

The censure resolution — sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) — had accused Tlaib of “leading an insurrection” for her participation in an anti-war protest last month at the Capitol, organized by Jewish groups, which featured scores of arrests.

Pro-Israel Democrats, who might have been inclined to censure Tlaib’s comments, had hammered Greene for her inaccurate characterization of a peace protest — albeit a rowdy one — and for sensationalizing Tlaib’s role in orchestrating it. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) echoed that sentiment, saying he voted to table the legislation because of the “insurrection” language.

“Rep. Rashida Tlaib has repeatedly made outrageous remarks toward Israel and the Jewish people. Her conduct is unbecoming of a member of Congress and certainly worthy of condemnation – if not censure,” he wrote on X. “However, tonight’s feckless resolution to censure Tlaib was deeply flawed and made legally and factually unverified claims, including the claim of leading an ‘insurrection.’”

Democrats were also leery that Greene’s “insurrectionist” language had trivialized the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Trump.

WaPo (“Second effort to expel George Santos from House fails“):

A motion to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) from the House failed Wednesday evening, with New York Republicans taking the helm in an attempt to remove him over his public false statements and ongoing federal criminal case.

Twenty-four House Republicans and 155 Democrats voted to expel Santos, while 182 Republicans and 31 Democrats voted against ousting him from Congress; 15 Democrats and four Republicans voted present.

The Republicans who voted for expulsion largely consisted of GOP lawmakers in swing districts, such as the New Yorkers who forced the vote and Reps. Thomas H. Kean Jr. (N.J.) and John James (Mich.). The Democrats who opposed expulsion came from all over the map, such as Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), who had just minutes earlier narrowly avoided her own punishment of censure over her opposition to the Israel-Gaza war. Rep. Brendan Boyle (Pa.), the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, voted present, as did members of the Ethics Committee who are overseeing the Santos investigation.

On Wednesday night, Santos posted on X, formally known as Twitter, that the failed vote “was a victory for due process not me.”

“This was never about me, and I’ll never let it become about me,” Santos wrote, also including a meme of him in the House chamber with a superimposed crown on his head.

“If you come for me, you best not miss,” the text on the image said.

The latest push to expel Santos, who is running for reelection, was led by his fellow Republican freshmen from New York. The House members — Anthony D’Esposito, Nick LaLota, Marcus J. Molinaro, Michael Lawler and Brandon Williams — represent swing districts and face difficult reelection campaigns.

But some House members in both parties had balked at the move, fearing that it could set a precedent for expelling a member who has not been convicted of a crime. Some lawmakers also worried that removing Santos would further normalize the drastic move at a time when the House is also grappling with partisan rancor and declining decorum.

All emphases mine.

Obviously, the fabulist Santos is more worthy of censure than Talib, who is simply over-the-top in her passions for her people’s cause. But what interests me here is the cross-party votes, which are an increasing rarity.

It sees that at least one Republican voted against Talib because she was accused of “insurrection” for leading a mob of protesters into the Capitol building. Presumably, that’s not a precedent with which Chip Roy was comfortable. One imagines that there are also still a handful of House Republicans who don’t think it proper to censure a colleague simply for expressing views with which they disagree.

Meanwhile, it seems that the Democrats who voted against the expulsion of Santos were mostly worried about weaponizing a tool that they doing trust Republicans to wield. But I expect that there is principle as well: we shouldn’t punish people for crimes for which they haven’t yet been convicted.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Given that the move to expel Santos was orchestrated by mostly, NY R’s, it was always an attempt to show the voters back home that they didn’t support him. The chance of passage was always slim and none.

  2. Scott says:

    Not exactly sure why conviction is the only criterion for expulsion. Have any intermediate actions been taken for being indicted, being a serial liar, etc? Kept off committees, forced to sit in chair in hallway?

  3. Charley in Cleveland says:

    If the standard for expulsion is a conviction, blatant con artists, grifters and bullshitters like George Santos will continue to find a home in the House of Reps, and performance artists like MTG will do whatever they can to create a false equivalence to Trump’s perfidy.

  4. drj says:

    It would be terrible to kick out an elected representative before a conviction (and perhaps even after a conviction, considering that it could be problematic if the judiciary could de facto invalidate a genuine electoral mandate).

    But the GOP could easily kick Santos out of their caucus. And it’s an utter disgrace that they haven’t done so already.

  5. Steve says:

    Congress does its own investigations all the time. 8 times for Benghazi. The investigative work has been done. Just present it and vote. What this means is that no matter what crime you commit you just wait it out since the court case will take years.


  6. MarkedMan says:

    Of course I would like Santos out but I’m uncomfortable with partisan reps saying, essentially, this guy is beyond the pale in some way or another so let’s toss them out. Look at the way it is being abused in Trump states to simply get rid of reps they don’t like.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Leaving aside the votes yesterday, Art 1, sec 5 states:

    Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business;

    Being in the House is a privilege and it is well within Congress’ powers to set standards beyond just conviction for a crime. That they haven’t is rather telling.

    As far as Santo’s being a pathological liar, if they made a rule punishing members for lying, I wonder how many could even speak.

  8. Thomm says:

    Just like to point out that my sales licence to sell cars would be suspended during the adjucation of such charges, if not outright revoked. We have some professionally licensed people on here that would face the same sanctions on their license

    ETA: And my dealership would launch me so fast I would leave a wily e coyote hole in the door.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    Just reread the top post and realized I had missed this:

    we shouldn’t punish people for crimes for which they haven’t yet been convicted.

    While this seems like a noble sentiment it has a couple of problems. Quite often what someone has admitted even in their public explanations disqualifies them for public office even if it is insufficient to convict them of a crime.

    And second, it simply is not the way our judicial system works. It is the absolute norm that a poor person charged with a serious crime is put in prison for months or even years before they ever have a trial.

  10. Kari Q says:

    The statement I saw about Santos referred to either conviction or a Congressional Ethics investigation finding that the Representative has violated rules. This seems to be a reasonable standard. Expelling someone from Congress should be an extreme step, taken only after a clear process.

  11. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Of COURSE Chip Roy doesn’t want to set a precedent that leading a rowdy crowd into the capitol building is insurrection. He wants to do it himself.

  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Thomm: And when you were acquitted and your license was reinstated, how would your dealership fare in an unjust termination suit? (Not a rhetorical question, I’m interested in whether your employment is entirely at will.)

  13. gVOR10 says:


    It is the absolute norm that a poor person charged with a serious crime is put in prison for months or even years before they ever have a trial.

    And loses a job because of it.

  14. Thomm says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: that suit would go no where. At will employment in the industry except for high levels like general managers and some finance directors.

  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Thomm: Thanks for the answer. Sorry due process doesn’t apply in your case and all anyone needs to do is accuse.

  16. Thomm says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: if state agents come in and arrest me for various fraud counts, I would expect nothing less. Can’t do the job with a suspended license anyway. It is odd that you think someone who handles confidential personal information *shouldn’t* be held to that standard.