Social media users are claiming that if Republican Rep. George Santos resigns from Congress following his recent fraud and money laundering indictment, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, could appoint Santos’ replacement unilaterally. These claims are false.
If Santos were to resign or be expelled by members of the House, state and federal laws mandate a special election to fill the vacancy. “When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies,” the House Vacancies Clause of the U.S. Constitution says. New York state law likewise directs the governor to “make proclamation of a special election to fill such office within ten days of the occurrence of a vacancy.”
Pursuant to the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, state governors may make temporary appointments to the Senate should the need arise, but this provision does not extend to the House of Representatives.
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