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

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

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

Representative George Santos, RN.Y., on Capitol Hill on May 11, 2023.Alex Wong/Getty Images

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

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California. —Who said last week that he would not support re-election of Santos—he said Tuesday night that he preferred that approach over a vote to expel Santos from Congress.

Garcia called McCarthy’s approach «an escape» at a news conference Wednesday morning. “This is already in the Ethics Committee,” Garcia said. «We want a real vote on expulsion.»

Rep. Dan Goldman, DN.Y., a former federal prosecutor, suggested the Ethics Committee would take no action on the ruling and instead refer it to the Justice Department, which last week indicted Santos on one count of 13 accusation.

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

Goldman said this tactic is a way for Republicans to avoid being held accountable for the removal measure.

The Republicans appear to have the votes they need to refer the matter to the Ethics Committee. Three New York House Republicans who previously called for Santos’ resignation, Reps. Mike Lawler, Brandon Williams and Marc Molinaro, told NBC News they will support the referral to Ethics.

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

Last week, Santos pleaded not guilty in a Long Island court to the federal indictment unsealed by the Justice Department. Saints was loaded 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 is due to appear in court again on June 30.

Santos, who had previously admitted that he lied about his background, called the charges against him “Witch huntand said he won’t quit.

In March, the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation that it said would determine whether Santos “engaged in illegal activities in connection with his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to adequately disclose the required information about the statements filed with the Chamber; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role with a company that provides trust services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct toward a job seeker in your congressional office.»

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