WASHINGTON — House Republicans awarded embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., seats on two House committees Tuesday, even as he faces federal, state and local investigations and fellow Republicans demand that he resign.
The GOP Steering Committee, which is led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California and doles out committee assignments, voted to give Santos slots on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Small Business Committee, which are two of the lower-profile panels on Capitol Hill.
Small Business Committee Chairman Roger Williams, R-Texas, confirmed Santos’ appointment to his panel. Two GOP sources said Santos would also serve on the Science committee.
"I don't agree with what [Santos] said, did and all. I don't agree with any of that, OK? It's wrong," Williams said in a phone interview Tuesday. "But at the same time, he's on the committee. We're gonna have rules to follow. He does represent about a million people in New York and a lot of Main Street issues."
Asked whether Santos would be a distraction to his committee, Williams replied: "It's only going to be a distraction to those who want to distract."
"We're going to have a lot of work to do, and we're going to do some good stuff, and he'll be a part of it. And if there's questions, we'll answer the questions. ... If they think [Santos' controversy] is going to be the main thing that comes out of the committee, they're going to really miss the boat."
Some Republicans, including Main Street Caucus Chairman Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, had argued that Santos should not be seated on any committee after he admitted to embellishing and lying about major aspects of his biography as he ran for Congress last year.
Members of both parties had raised concerns about Santos' having access to classified information through a committee spot. A House Republican who frequently handles classified documents and information said last week that Santos “probably shouldn’t be on Intelligence” or the Armed Services Committee, specifically suggesting the Small Business Committee as a safer place to seat him.
Given Republicans' razor-thin, four-seat majority, McCarthy and his leadership team are standing by Santos, even as McCarthy promised that he would not be given a seat on any top "A" committees, like Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce or Financial Services.
McCarthy said Tuesday that the decision to grant Santos committee slots was made by the Steering Committee and that he did not make the decision alone. Asked why Santos was given two committee assignments, McCarthy said that was standard protocol.
“Every member in the Republican Conference has two unless they’re on [an] 'A' committee, then you just get one. And [a] number of people have three,” McCarthy said.