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WASHINGTON — House Republicans plan to vote Wednesday evening on a motion to refer a Democratic-sponsored resolution to expel Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., to the Ethics Committee.

The resolution was introduced on Tuesday by Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., and is privileged, which means Republican leaders must schedule a vote by Thursday.

Republicans will try to bypass a vote on the bill itself, however, by referring it to the House Committee on Ethics, which has been investigating Santos since early March.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., sent out a notice Wednesday telling lawmakers that they would vote on a motion to refer the resolution to the Ethics panel around 5 p.m.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. — who said last week that he would not back Santos’ re-election bid — said Tuesday night that he preferred that approach rather than a floor vote to expel Santos from Congress.

Garcia called McCarthy’s approach “a cop-out” at a press conference on Wednesday morning. “This is already in the Ethics Committee,” Garcia said. “We want an actual vote on the expulsion.”

Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., a former federal prosecutor, suggested that the Ethics Committee wouldn’t take any action on the resolution, and instead defer to the Department of Justice, which last week charged Santos with a 13-count indictment.

“Prosecutors are going to ask the Ethics Committee to pause and let their prosecution go first,” he said. “That’s what I did for 10 years, that is the nature of how these things work. And traditionally, the Ethics Committee will defer to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution and Kevin McCarthy knows that.”

Goldman said this tactic is a way for Republicans avoiding accountability on the expulsion measure.

Santos’ congressional office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last week, Santos pleaded not guilty at a Long Island courthouse to the federal indictment unsealed by the Justice Department. Santos was charged with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives, according to the Justice Department. He’s due in court again June 30.

Santos, who had previously admitted that he lied about his background, has called the charges against him a “witch hunt“ and said that he won’t resign.

In March, the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation that it said would determine whether Santos “engaged in unlawful activity with respect to his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to properly disclose required information on statements filed with the House; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role in a firm providing fiduciary services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct towards an individual seeking employment in his congressional office.”

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