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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

The latest on expulsion and censure

The House is back tonight and will start working its way through the three privileged resolutions filed last week.

You’ll remember: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) wants to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.); Democrats want to censure MTG; and Rep. George Santos’ (R-N.Y.) own New York Republican delegation wants to expel him from Congress.

First and most importantly, we expect both sides to have some attendance issues today — maybe significant issues — that will affect these votes.

Democrats are going to try to table the Tlaib resolution when it comes up for a vote. We talked to senior House Democratic sources who say they expect all their members to vote in favor of tabling it, which effectively kills the resolution. The question is whether enough Republicans join with them to do so? Keep an eye on the Michigan delegation, which opposes Tlaib’s censure.

Yes, there’s a lot of tension and infighting within the Democratic Caucus over the Israel-Hamas war. And Tlaib angered several of her colleagues by leaving up a tweet that accused Israel of bombing a hospital in Gaza despite intelligence proving otherwise.

But House Democratic leaders expect they won’t have problems getting their rank-and-file to vote together because of who authored the resolution — MTG — and the outlandish claims within it, including accusing Tlaib of inciting an insurrection.

The Tlaib resolution “is an extreme, disingenuous and clearly partisan ploy,” Democrats said in a whip notice sent around Tuesday.

The MTG censure: Democrats, led by Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.), filed a motion to censure MTG in retaliation for her efforts against Tlaib. Balint delivered a fiery speech on the House floor last week explaining why the far-right firebrand should be censured.

We expect Republicans to firmly oppose this resolution. Again, this isn’t because all House Republicans love MTG. But GOP leaders and members will defend one of their own against Democrats.

Now about Santos: The House will also have to consider the resolution to expel Santos that several New York Republicans filed last week.

The cynical take: Democrats say vulnerable New York Republicans are doing this now to give themselves political cover after opposing Democrats’ effort to boot Santos earlier this year. Democrats also point to Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.), who is leading the expulsion effort while also fundraising off of it.

Still, all 212 Democrats are expected to back the measure. Even institutionalists who would typically vote against something like this because Santos hasn’t been convicted of anything are in favor.

But, of course, any expulsion effort needs two-thirds support in the House. That means at least 77 Republicans would have to join with Democrats if all members are present and voting. The key will be how many lawmakers show up. Because Santos can be booted with two-thirds present and voting, that number is sure to be lower this week.

Speaker Mike Johnson isn’t in favor of expelling Santos, saying the freshman lawmaker deserves due process. Santos, who is facing a 23-count federal criminal indictment on bribery, wire fraud and identity theft charges, won’t go on trial until September 2024. But Republicans could change their tune if the House Ethics Committee finishes its probe first.

In a new twist, the Ethics Committee released a very unusual statement Monday night saying it would have an update on the probe “on or before November 17.” This was clearly an attempt by the secretive panel to buy more time for its probe before the House takes any action against Santos.

Ethics’ statement provided some insight into the scale of its investigation of Santos. Remember, Ethics may have subpoena power but it doesn’t have the investigative infrastructure on the scale of a law-enforcement agency.

The special investigative subcommittee assigned to the Santos case “has contacted approximately 40 witnesses, reviewed more than 170,000 pages of documents, and authorized 37 subpoenas. The Committee’s nonpartisan staff and the ISC Members have put countless hours into this investigation, which has been a priority for the investigative team and involved a significant amount of the Committee’s resources.”

— Heather Caygle, John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman

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