Santos tells House Republicans he'd recuse himself from committee assignments

Santos was assigned seats on two House committees.

January 31, 2023, 1:07 PM

Embattled GOP Rep. George Santos told House Republicans during a closed door meeting on Tuesday that he would recuse himself from sitting on any committees.

Santos was recently assigned two committees -- the House Small Business Committee and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Leaving the House Republican meeting, Speaker Kevin McCarthy confirmed that Santos said he would recuse himself from committees but indicated if he were to fill the committee seats, it would be on a temporary basis.

"If I fill them it will be on a temporary basis. He'll be able to get committees back once he's cleared," McCarthy said.

A spokesperson for Santos' office told ABC News, "The congressman is reserving his seats on his assigned committees until he has been properly cleared of both campaign and personal financial investigations."

Santos was elected in November to represent New York's 3rd Congressional District but by the time he was sworn in, he was under a cloud of controversy for fabricating much of his resume. He now also faces several investigations into his campaign's finances.

McCarthy reiterated that the House Ethics Committee will have questions about many of those concerns and once he answers those questions he may be able to be seated on committees.

"I think it was an appropriate decision that until he can clear everything up he's off the committees," McCarthy said, adding that they discussed the matter during a meeting on Monday.

McCarthy wouldn't say explicitly whether he encouraged Santos to step aside from his committee assignments but told reporters, "I think we had a good discussion inside the meeting" and said Santos found this decision was the best way forward.

Santos was also questioned about the decision as he exited the Capitol on Tuesday.

“Nobody tells me to do anything, I made the decision on my own that I thought best represented -- in interest of the voters," Santos told ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott.

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) leaves a GOP caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on Jan. 25, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Santos was assigned to the two House panels earlier this month despite calls for his resignation by Democrats and at least seven Republicans.

McCarthy has declined to join calls for Santos to step down, stating he will treat him like any other member of the House.

“I will hold him to the same standard I hold anyone else elected to Congress,” McCarthy told reporters last week. “If he has broken the law then we will remove him, but it is not my role. I believe in the rule of law.”

Santos' committee assignments were also the subject of scrutiny given McCarthy blocked Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee. McCarthy is also seeking to remove Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Santos himself has remained defiant against stepping down.

When asked by ABC News' Rachel Scott Tuesday if he was now considering resigning, he replied, "No, I'm not."