For as long as possible, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will resist adding to the pressure for Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) to step down; that much is clear. Republicans have only four or five votes to spare right now in a narrowly divided House, and a special election for Santos’s Democratic-leaning seat could well diminish that already-slight majority.
But even with that raw political calculus in focus, a growing number of Republicans are coming out in favor of Santos’s resignation — especially locally but also nationally — in a way that could make McCarthy’s posture more difficult to maintain.
Here’s the current breakdown of resignation calls:
- 60 percent: The share of New York Republicans in Congress not named George Santos who have called for him to resign. Of the 10, the following six have said Santos should step down: Reps. Marcus J. Molinaro, Nicholas A. Langworthy, Nick LaLota, Michael Lawler, Brandon Williams and Anthony D’Esposito. (A seventh, Rep. Andrew R. Garbarino, has punted on the question by citing his service on a subcommittee of the House Ethics Committee.)
- 6 (of 6): The number of GOP freshmen from New York (excluding Santos) who have called for him to resign. All except Langworthy come from competitive districts.
- 82 percent: The percentage of Santos’s voters who are in Nassau County, where the county party has called for him to resign. (The leader of the other county Santos represents, Queens, has not joined the calls.)
- Both: The chairmen of each state party whose ballot lines Santos ran on in 2022 — Langworthy, who chairs the New York GOP, and Gerard Kassar, who heads the New York Conservative Party — who have called for him to resign.
- 1 (of 2): The number of Jewish Republicans in Congress who have called for Santos’s resignation. Rep. Max L. Miller (R-Ohio) joined the calls Friday, citing Santos’s dubious claims to Jewish heritage and his personal connection to the Holocaust: “It is not okay to fabricate or lie for political gain. This is especially true when the lie seeks benefit from the murder of millions of Jewish people.” The Republican Jewish Coalition has also denounced Santos, accusing him of deceiving the organization and disinviting him from future events. (The other Jewish Republican in the House is Rep. David Kustoff of Tennessee, who serves on the board of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. He hasn’t really weighed in, and his office hasn’t responded to a request for comment.)
- 2: The number of House Republicans from outside New York who have called for Santos to resign, with Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) joining Miller.
- 1: The number of former House GOP speakers who have called for Santos to resign, after Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) did so Thursday, citing Santos’s “fraudulent candidacy.” Notably, Ryan was once closely allied with McCarthy as 2 of the 3 members of the so-called Republican “Young Guns.”
- 1: The number of potential GOP presidential candidates calling for Santos to resign, after New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) did so this week.
None of this suggests the pressure will become unbearable for McCarthy particularly soon. Many of these members have tough reelections to worry about, in which taking a principled stand on Santos could be an asset. The local and state parties have their credibility with New York voters to worry about. Miller has a perspective on Santos’s claimed links to historical atrocities that’s shared by very few in the House GOP. And it’s not as if Ryan is guiding the GOP these days.
Certainly, it’s worth asking how far many of these Republicans are willing to go if they truly believe Santos is unfit for office. Will they ramp up the pressure for him to resign, for example, by continuing to talk about it, by forcing votes on the matter, or even voting to expel him (if it comes to that)?
But the growing roster does provide a stark backdrop to McCarthy’s posture. He says the voters elected Santos and should decide the matter, yet a growing number in his party — officials elected to represent voters from the very same state — say Santos has disqualified himself. Indeed, they’re saying the voters never really elected Santos in the first place, because the actual man is so far different than the candidate who was presented to them.
It’s worth emphasizing that this isn’t just Santos having lied in various ways about his educational and professional record; he allegedly exploited not just the Holocaust, as Miller notes, but also 9/11 and the Pulse nightclub massacre by suggesting personal links to these tragedies that have since fallen apart or come into question. And that’s not even to mention the very real legal jeopardy he faces.
Keep an eye in the coming days and weeks to see whether the calls to resign continue to spread outside the New York delegation, and also if others join Miller in emphasizing some of the more problematic aspects of Santos’s lies and misrepresentations.