House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) ignored New York state and local Republicans’ calls for Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to resign on Wednesday.
Not only that, the newly-elected speaker also gave Santos an out.
“A lot of people here in the Senate and others” also fabricated part of their resumes, McCarthy told reporters on the Hill, after one of them pointed out that the freshman lawmaker has outright admitted to “embellishing” his resume.
“Is there a charge against him? You know, in America today, you’re innocent until proven guilty,” McCarthy added.
This comes just hours after Nassau County Republican leaders called on Santos to resign Wednesday afternoon for falsifying his resume while on the campaign trail and lying to the committee about his background. Officials with the New York State Conservative Party also put out a statement calling for his resignation. A few sitting members of Congress have suggested he do the same.
But McCarthy has not been swayed.
“I try to stick to the Constitution,” he told reporters. “The voters elected him to serve. If there is a concern it has to go through the Ethics [committee.]”
It is unlikely that McCarthy actually believes “a lot of people” in Congress have embellished their resumes to the point of creating a new identity like Santos. His comments are a mere effort to dodge mounting pressure for Santos to resign. Joining resignation calls would put the nervous House speaker in an even more precarious spot. A resignation from Santos could mean a special election in a district that Democrats are favored to win. If Democrats gain another seat, it would mean a slimmer majority for Congressional Republicans.
With the razor-tight majority, McCarthy can’t afford to lose any Republican votes in the House, especially votes from lawmakers who loyally backed his speakership bid. Santos voted for McCarthy 15 times in last week’s speaker elections, proving himself to be an asset to McCarthy as he navigates legislating with a handful of detractors.
Lucky for McCarthy, Santos has no plans of giving up his seat.
“I was elected to serve the people of #NY03 not the party & politicians, I remain committed to doing that and regret to hear that local officials refuse to work with my office to deliver results to keep our community safe and lower the cost of living,” Santos tweeted shortly after the Nassau County Republicans’ called for him to resign.
“I will NOT resign!” Santos wrote.