Texas Republican Representative Tony Gonzalez criticized his own poiitical party, saying that his newly minted colleague, New York Representative George Santos, isn't as bad as the Republican "frauds" in the House of Representatives who actively held up House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's election last week.
Gonzalez's observations are particularly striking because Santos has been mired in significant scandal even before he admitted to “embellishing” his résumé following an extensive investigation by The New York Times that exposed multiple lies he told about his life story.
He says that Santos is "the least of this country’s worries" when compared to the far-right faction whose opposition to McCarthy's bid for the speakership paralyzed the House last week and made it impossible to swear in new and preexisting members of Congress, set the legislative agenda, and even receive paychecks.
You can hear what he said in the video below.
When asked by Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan if Santos "should be removed from office," Gonzalez said:
"Look, there’s a lot of frauds in Congress. I think a lot of people got to see that first hand over the last week. I mean, George Santos is the least of this country’s worries.”
“We have a lot of things to worry about. Step one is- is getting this rules package done."
Gonzalez's opinion lies in stark contrast to that of his colleage, South Carolina Republican Nancy Mace, who told Face the Nation that it's "very difficult to work with anyone who cannot be trusted" and that it's "very clear" Santos' "entire resume and life was manufactured until a couple days ago, when he finally changed his website.”
Santos—who is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation—had earlier fessed up to at least some of his lies in an interview with The New York Post.
Santos told the Rupert Murdoch owned conservative tabloid he is “embarrassed” by his false and misleading statements but he nonetheless believes he will be an “effective” House Republican in the new Congress even as questions remain about his education, work history and even his source of income.
As more of Santos' lies continue to be exposed—subsequent New York Times investigations have unearthed possible campaign finance violations due to suspicious expenditures listed on his campaign disclosures—Republicans have largely denounced him and Santos told New York GOP officials he does not plan to run for reelection in 2024.
However, the pushback against Santos is not necessarily a fix for the ongoing dysfunction in the House, which was undeniably present last week after it took McCarthy 15 ballots—and multiple concessions to the far-right—to win the speakership.
While many agreed with Gonzalez's sentiment, others also pointed out that it is possible to critique both.
Although McCarthy ultimately won the speakership, he still faces opposition within his own party, particularly from Florida Representative Matt Gaetz and Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert, two of the loudest voices leading the rebellion to deny him the coveted position.
It took four days of voting before many of the Republicans who had opposed McCarthy began voting for him following negotiations between rounds. On the fifteenth and final ballot, the six remaining Republican holdouts abstained, allowing McCarthy to receive 216 votes, or 50.5 percent of the votes cast for a named candidate, and be elected Speaker.
McCarthy tried unsuccessfully to get Gaetz and Boebert to vote for him. Tensions flared after Albama Representative Mike Rogers, a McCarthy ally who is in line to become the next chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, had to be restrained after an argument broke out between him and Gaetz on the House floor.