George Santos puts forward bill named after Nicki Minaj as he announces re-election bid

Embattled New York congressman is facing Ethics Committee investigation and scrutiny from federal authorities

John Bowden
Washington DC
Tuesday 18 April 2023 18:43 BST
Embattled congressman George Santos surrounded by crowds outside Trump arraignment

George Santos is officially running for re-election in 2024, even as he faces multiple investigations headed up by the House Ethics Committee, the FBI and local authorities.

And he’s marking his bid for a second term with a bill named in honour of Nicki Minaj, the New York-born rapper whose comments expressing skepticism about vaccines clearly resonated with the congressman as he seeks to prevent the federal government from mandating administration of any vaccine that hasn’t been on the market for a decade.

It would, however, carve out an exception for cases of a public health emergency – like the Covid-19 crisis.

“Medical Freedom is an absolute right,” said Mr Santos in a press release. “I urge my colleagues to join me in this mission to block tyrannical and draconian measures from being utilized by the Federal Government. If a public health emergency has been declared, then the federal agency looking to impose the mandate must submit a report to Congress and highlight the intent as well as the research behind the vaccine.”

It’s another step in Mr Santos’s attempted pivot to normalcy — he remains by far the most controversial pariah on Capitol Hill and a constant source of embarassment for Republican leadership in Congress. But since taking office he has sought to flood the zone with floor speeches, the introduction of bills, and other efforts to solidify his credibility in Washington.

As he took office in January, he faced calls from both Republicans and Democrats, especially those hailing from his home state, to resign over his multiple proven instances of dishonesty during his 2020 congressional campaign. The congressman is known to have lied about being descended from Holocaust survivors, to say nothing of a littany of other lies and “embellishments” of his record, which his political foes have argued led to voters electing a completely concocted image that does not reflect reality.

He has resisted those calls to resign while striking up an alliance with the most far-right members of Congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz and openly taunting Democrats over their defeat to him in a generally left-leaning district in 2020.

The New York Republican announced his bid for office in 2024 this week in a news release he shared on Twitter, proclaiming that America needed his reliably right-wing vote in the House and touting his ability to win in a Democrat-leaning district.

That ability to win in his district, however, is unproven at best. His victory in 2020 came before the vast bulk of his inaccuracies and outright fabrications came to light in local and national media, and in the weeks and months since he took office polling has shown that a majority of voters in his district want him to resign.

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