The House of Representatives is expected to start dealing with controversial plans to either discipline or expel members Wednesday evening.
On the table is a resolution to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., for her antisemitic comments and support of an anti-Israel rally on Capitol Hill; a resolution to censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., over a host of remarks, including anti-LGBTQ comments; and a resolution to expel Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., as he faces a litany of criminal charges and criticism for lying about his background to win a seat in Congress.
Even though these three disciplinary measures are slated to come up on the House floor, it’s possible the House may only vote on motions to table each resolution. If the motion to table succeeds, the resolution is essentially done. However, if the House fails to table a resolution, it would go on do debate and vote directly on each measure to censure or expulsion.
The House will consider each resolution for Tlaib, Greene and Santos separately. It takes a simple majority to table the resolutions. A simple majority is also required to adopt a censure resolution. However, Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote to expel a lawmaker from the House.
Censure is “a formal, majority vote in the House on a resolution disapproving of a Member’s conduct.” Censure is the second-most serious form of discipline in the House, falling between reprimand and expulsion. A member must stand in the well of the House chamber and face a verbal rebuke by the House Speaker when censured.
The House has censured 25 members in history. But the frequency of censures has increased in recent years. The House didn’t censure anyone between 1983 and 2010, when lawmakers voted to censure former Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., for failing to pay taxes and misusing his office.
In 2021, the House voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., for posting a video which depicted him violently attacking President Biden and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. And in June, the House censured Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., for his charges about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The House has only expelled five members in history. The last was the late Rep. Jim Traficant, D-Ohio, in 2002.
A senior House Republican leadership source tells Fox it expects the House to table all three motions. But it’s truly unclear what the outcome might be. Leaders on either side won’t whip these votes to get a sense of where members stand. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., characterized the censure effort for Tlaib as a “vote of conscience.”
The effort to expel Santos took an odd turn late Tuesday afternoon. The House Ethics Committee published a statement indicating that it would take action on Santos “on or before November 17.” That was viewed as a pre-emptive strike by the Ethics Committee to convince members to table the effort to expel Santos. Despite Santos’s alleged misdeeds, he has not been convicted and the Ethics Committee has not published a report on his conduct. The Ethics Committee has also not recommended a potential punishment for Santos.
The maneuver by the Ethics Committee could give lawmakers a fig leaf to hide behind it until it finishes its work. In other words, lawmakers who may otherwise want to expel could vote to table.
Some Republicans may prefer the option of tabling the Santos expulsion question. If so, they will have dodged a tough vote again on Santos. They may not like Santos. But don’t have to judge Santos. Yet.
Johnson has expressed concern about the House acting without granting Santos “due process,” noting that the New York Republican hasn’t been convicted of anything. Moreover, it’s about the math. Johnson suggested he is concerned about the size of the Republican’s “razor-thin” majority. Expelling Santos would dwindle those ranks. There have been suggestions that other members could resign, too. So salvaging the majority of part of the GOP calculus when it comes to Santos.
Expulsions are rare in the House. The House last expelled a member in 2002.
Here’s what’s not on the table Wednesday evening: an effort by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., to expel Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., for pulling a false fire alarm. Bowman pleaded guilty to the charge last week.
Malliotakis and others have suggested that Bowman be expelled for “disrupting Congress.” They note that Bowman is a former elementary school teacher and principal. Malliotakis says that a student would be expelled from school had they pulled a false fire alarm. She reasons that Bowman deserves the same punishment. But any sanction for Bowman is not before the House tonight.
Fox News’ Thomas Phippen contributed to this story.