WASHINGTON — Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., said Tuesday he will recuse himself from his committee assignments amid multiple investigations into his finances and other issues.
“With the ongoing attention surrounding both my personal and campaign financial investigations, I have submitted a request to Speaker McCarthy that I be temporarily recused from my committee assignments until I am cleared," Santos said in a statement.
“This was a decision that I take very seriously,” he added. “The business of the 118th Congress must continue without media fanfare. It is important that I primarily focus on serving the constituents of New York’s Third Congressional District and providing federal level representation without distraction.”
Santos, who has admitted to lying about much of his background and has faced numerous calls to resign from Congress, was assigned seats on the Small Business and Science committees. He told reporters Tuesday that he is not considering leaving office.
He shared his decision during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning with the House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik of New York, told reporters at a news conference.
Santos, however, has not gone far enough in the eyes of two fellow Republicans representing congressional districts on Long Island.
"This is a classic case of someone quitting right before they were going to get fired," Reps. Nick LaLota and Anthony D'Esposito said in a joint statement. "While we, and the overwhelming percentage of Long Islanders we represent, are relieved to see that Santos will not be undeservedly sitting on committees, he should still do the right thing and resign. That is what is in the best interest of his constituents and House Republicans."
In a poll released Tuesday from Newsday and Siena College, 71% of voters in Santos’ district said Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., should not have seated Santos on the two committees, and 78% said they believed he should resign from Congress. Asked Tuesday whether Santos should step down, Stefanik said the “process will play itself out” in the next election.
Santos is under investigation by the Nassau County district attorney and federal prosecutors in New York. Law enforcement sources have said federal authorities are examining his finances, including potential irregularities involving financial disclosures and loans he made to his campaign. The state attorney general’s office has also said it’s “looking into a number of issues” regarding Santos.
Santos met with McCarthy on Monday night. Speaking to reporters separately Tuesday, McCarthy said Santos asked whether he could recuse himself from his committee assignments. "I think it was the appropriate decision," McCarthy said.
Santos told reporters Tuesday that McCarthy didn't request the recusal. "Nobody tells me to do anything. I made a decision on my own," he said.
The GOP Steering Committee, which is led by McCarthy and doles out committee assignments, voted this month to give Santos slots on the panels, which are two of the lower-profile ones on Capitol Hill.
“The voters have elected him, and he’ll have a voice here in Congress, and until he answers all those questions, then, at that time, he’ll be able to be seated on committees,” McCarthy said about the investigations Santos faces.
Members of both parties had expressed concerns about Santos’ having access to classified information through his work on committees. At the same time, all lawmakers are able to periodically sit in on classified briefings such as those provided by administration officials.
Last week, McCarthy said that while he stands by Santos, he will be removed from office if the House Ethics Committee finds he broke the law.
Santos first came under scrutiny after The New York Times published a bombshell investigation in December indicating that much of his résumé appeared to have been manufactured, including claims that he owned numerous properties, was previously employed by Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and had graduated from Baruch College. He has also lied about how his mother was at the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Santos has repeatedly said he plans to explain the inconsistencies, but he has not followed through on those promises.