The temporary resignation from the committee marks the first major concession by Santos after weeks of staunchly resisting any consequences for his fabrications.
Discussing the private meeting, one Republican lawmaker, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Santos said at the meeting that he would resign because “he’s a distraction.” The conversation came a day after Santos met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
House Small Business Committee Chairman Roger Williams (R-Tex.) said he understands the withdrawal is temporary until Santos is cleared of the ongoing investigation. The 34-year-old freshman Republican faces increasing scrutiny, including federal probes into his campaign finances and local probes into falsifying his résumé, as misrepresentations about his experience, personal life and education were revealed.
“It took me by surprise, but it was probably the right decision,” Williams said.
“With the ethics investigation pending, I think this is the right decision,” said Rep. Michael Lawler (R-N.Y.), who had called for Santos’ resignation.
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After the meeting, Santos declined to comment, saying: “I think if you want details about the committee, you should talk to the leadership.”
The announcement came on the same day that polls in his district showed a strong majority of voters thought he should resign. A Newsday-Siena College poll found that more than three-quarters of registered voters in New York’s 3rd Congressional District said he should leave office.
Santos has given no indication that he intends to give up the seat voluntarily.
Republicans in his Long Island district and several members of the House GOP called on Santos to resign. McCarthy, a Republican with a slim majority, rejected those calls, however. Republican leadership has avoided berating Santos, and others have not called for his resignation.
Asked if she regretted supporting Santos after news broke that Santos had quit the committee, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said voters chose him.
“This process will end on its own,” the No. 3 House Republican said on Tuesday. “But in the end, voters will make that decision.”
Democratic leaders, who have repeatedly called for Santos’ resignation, questioned Santos’ latest expropriation and the Republican response.
“I’m appalled at how disorganized, disorganized and dysfunctional the Republican conference is,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.). “They defended putting him on the committee, and now they’re announcing that he won’t be on the committee. So I just don’t understand what the drama is today.”
Santos’ move comes as McCarthy is working to secure a Republican vote to kick Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. After Democrats removed two Republicans — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) — from committees that supported sociopolitical violence against Democrats , the spokesperson is determined to fulfill a years-long promise. media.
McCarthy said he wanted to remove Omar from the committee because of “repeated anti-Semitic and anti-American rhetoric,” referring to her use of anti-Semitic tropes and comparisons to U.S. actions terrorist organizationshe later clarified, “In no way am I equating a terrorist organization with a democracy with a well-established judicial system.”
But McCarthy faced opposition from Republicans Victoria Spartz (Ind.), Ken Buck (Colorado) and Nancy Mace (South Carolina). Republicans have a narrow majority, allowing them to lose just four votes to pass any bill. That gap dropped to two-thirds as Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) recovered from a traumatic fall in which he was injured.
John Wagner contributed to this report.