Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Santos and Tlaib: Riders on the Storm

Reps. "George Santos" (R-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) were both put under a very uncomfortable magnifying glass by their colleagues this week. However, they both rode out the storm.

We'll start with "Santos," because his turn came first, and because he was in considerably more peril. On Wednesday, the House voted on the resolution to expel him from Congress. Showing that it's not so easy to whip votes, even when the subject of the vote played Indiana Jones in the hit movie series, the New York Republicans leading the charge didn't even come close to shedding the anchor around their necks. Here's a screen capture of the vote, courtesy of C-SPAN:

24 Republicans and 155 Democrats voted 'yes,' 182 Republicans
and 31 Democrats voted 'no,' 4 Republicans and 15 Democrats voted 'present,' and 22 members didn't vote.

Given all the members who did not vote, it would have taken 262 votes to expel, so it really wasn't close.

The subject of most interest, at least to most commentators, was the 31 Democrats who voted in "Santos'" favor. Many of them are from swing districts, but some progressives also voted to sustain the Congressman, including Katie Porter (CA), Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Jamie Raskin (MD). It is also the case that House leadership declined to whip votes, leaving members to vote as they saw fit.

So, what's going on here? It's certainly possible that there was some political gamesmanship going on, and that some or all of the 31 Democrats wanted to leave the New York GOP tethered to this particular black sheep. However, we doubt it. "Santos" was going to survive regardless of how the Democrats voted, and so the 31 could have voted the less controversial position (i.e., "toss him out") and he would still have remained in the House, a drag on the Republican Party.

No, we think that the 31 had real, legitimate reservations about the expulsion. Just as a general rule, members have spent the last 200 years being leery of expulsions, except in the very most extreme cases. It's the same thing with Academic Senate faculties that are loath to revoke tenure; they don't want to eat away at the foundations of their own job security.

More specific to this case, if "Santos" had been expelled, the people who run the Republican Party have shown they are very willing to play tit-for-tat, and to abuse various processes to do so (see Joe Biden, impeachment of). If "Santos" was expelled for merely being charged with a crime (even if the evidence is overwhelming), without the House Ethics Committee signing off (and it hasn't done so, as yet), then it is very plausible that a red-state AG, or a Republican-appointed U.S. Attorney General, might charge Adam Schiff (D-CA) or Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) with some offense, and that a Republican-controlled House might try to expel that person. It wouldn't work, but the impeachment of Biden won't work, either. And it would allow those Republicans to muddy the waters.

Now if Republicans try that stunt (and they might), then the Democrats in general, and the 31 "nays" in particular, will be able to push back with credibility. "First," they will say, "it was Republican members who tried to boot 'Santos,' not us." "Second," they will point out, "the House Democratic Caucus did not support the move, and many Democrats voted against it. So, we are equally against expulsion without trial for a Republican OR a Democrat." Note that some of the "nay" voters (like Porter) have hinted that this was their thinking, but they can't come out and say this whole thing without de facto throwing a grenade into the middle of the House Republican Conference. So, the Democratic "nays" have to keep it mostly on the down-low, particularly given the tense issues that are on the horizon, like Israel and the budget.

And speaking of Israel, Tlaib faced a motion of censure in response to her comments on the subject. Many members on both sides of the aisle are not happy with the Representative's staunchly pro-Palestine (and anti-Israel) remarks, but motions of censure are supposed to be reserved for very serious misconduct, such that it's only happened 26 times. The procedure was already cheapened by the "let's kowtow to Donald Trump" censure of Schiff, and a majority of House members clearly weren't willing to cheapen it any further, as all the Democrats and 23 Republicans voted to table the Tlaib censure. So, it's dead.

A pretty good sign the censure was not worthy of consideration is that it was sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who is probably the biggest show horse in Congress (though Matt Gaetz, R-FL, is not far behind, while Nancy Mace, R-SC, is making a move—see below). As you can imagine, Greene blew a gasket on the platform formerly known as Twitter, posting the names of all the Republicans who cast "nay" votes, and decreeing that: "This is why Republicans NEVER do anything to stop the communists [sic] Democrats or ever hold anyone accountable!!" Yep, blasting anyone who opposes her as a "communist(s)." Is there anything at all in her worldview that doesn't come from the year 1950? (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates