After George Santos was expelled from the House on Friday, several Republican members of Congress said that Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York should face a vote of censure or expulsion by the House following his pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, they told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Bowman pled guilty to a misdemeanor for improperly triggering a fire alarm on Sept. 30 in the Cannon House Office Building, where members of Congress have their offices, prompting an evacuation of the building. After Santos, who has been indicted on 23 felony charges for campaign finance-related offenses, was expelled in a bipartisan vote on Friday, several House Republicans indicated that Bowman should be sanctioned next.
“He’s been convicted of a crime. George Santos wasn’t. He’s pled guilty to a crime. George Santos has not been convicted of anything,” said Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado to the DCNF, affirming her belief that Bowman should be expelled. “This is a terrible precedent, a shameful precedent was just set,” she added about the expulsion of Santos.
“Jamaal Bowman literally pulled a fire alarm to disrupt proceedings. He pled guilty to the underlying charges that were negotiated. Jamaal Bowman really is unfit to be in Congress,” said Republican Rep. Mike Lawler of New York to the DCNF when asked about Bowman’s possible expulsion. “The fact is, there should be consequences. And somebody should start asking the five Democrats on the ethics committee why they are blocking an investigation into Jamal Bowman.”
Despite Bowman pleading guilty, the House Ethics Committee declined to investigate him for his conduct after a vote on Nov. 22. The committee’s release of a scathing report into Santos’ conduct on Nov. 16 prompted many House Republicans to support his expulsion, prior to which votes to expel him had failed.
“I think we should develop some of those facts,” said Republican Rep. Nick LaLota of New York to the DCNF about Bowman’s situation. “We took 11 months to get to the point where we expelled George Santos because we developed those facts appropriately. I think if we’re going to consider expulsion of another member, all those facts ought to be presented and developed in a similar manner.”
Other members, however, disagreed that an Ethics Committee investigation would be necessary, including Republican Rep. Andrew Garbarino of New York, who is a member of the committee. “Just because there was not an [Investigatory Subcommittee formed] doesn’t mean that the House cannot decide to sanction or punish Mr. Bowman for what he did and what he pled guilty for,” he told the DCNF after the vote on Santos’ expulsion.
“I think that when he falsely pulled the fire alarm and tried to interfere with acts of Congress…he has to answer for his actions,” Garbarino added. “I don’t know what will be put forward. I don’t know if there’ll be an expulsion resolution put forward or censure. We’ll see what happens when we come back next week.”
Bowman initially claimed that he did not intentionally trigger the fire alarm and did so only to exit the building from a door marked as an emergency exit, with him writing that he “was rushing to make a vote” at the time. Footage from a security camera shows him removing warning signs from the door before pulling the fire alarm, following which he walked away from the door without trying to open it.
Republican Rep. Mark Molinaro of New York agreed. “That is a process that I think will come forward. I think…he should be held to a high standard and there should be some punishment for his behavior,” he told the DCNF, adding “We’ll see what comes to the floor.”
Garbarino, LaLota, Lawler and Molinaro are part of a group of freshmen New York Republican members, including Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, who had pushed vigorously to expel Santos, allegedly because he would reflect poorly on them as they seek reelection in competitive districts. However, the action prompted opposition from many other Republicans, over half of whom voted against his expulsion and who appear disinclined to expel Bowman on principle.
“He should have had his day in court like every citizen of the United States. And if it’s now going to be the whim of members to expel other members and disenfranchise their constituency, regardless of how those members might feel about the actions and the allegations, that is patently wrong,” said Republican Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida to reporters. “We are a nation of laws not a nation of men and this institution better remember that.”
Santos was expelled by a vote of 311 yeas to 114 nays, meeting the two-thirds majority requirement of the U.S. Constitution. All members of the House Republican leadership — including House Speaker Mike Johnson, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Majority Whip Tom Emmer and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik — voted against his expulsion.
Democrats, meanwhile, have sought to draw a distinction between Bowman and Santos, despite the former’s guilty plea. “There are lots of criminal offenses. Jaywalking is a criminal offense. I don’t think we would expel somebody from Congress for that,” said Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland to the DCNF. “Do I think somebody should be expelled from Congress because they pulled the fire detector that they think they need to get out of the building? No…George Santos’ offenses were of a very grave and serious nature, repeated over time.”
Santos had submitted a resolution to expel Bowman on Thursday, his last full day in the 118th Congress. A spokesperson for Johnson’s office told the DCNF that the bill remains valid and will be considered according to House procedures, even as its sponsor has been expelled.
Bowman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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