New York Gov. Kathy Hochul hosted a bipartisan meeting with the New York congressional delegation Wednesday, with one lawmaker notably left off the invite list.
Rep. George Santos, who is under fire for fabricating large parts of his resume, was not invited, according to the governor’s office.
In the closed-door meeting, which took place on Capitol Hill, lawmakers talked about their policy priorities and federal funding for projects back in their districts, among other things.
“We’re talking about their work on committees, and he’s not a committee member,” Hochul said of Santos, who represents parts of Queens and Nassau counties.
Members of Santos’s own party in attendance — who have already called for the embattled Republican to resign — indicated they were not upset by his absence.
“No one noticed that George Santos was not here,” said Rep. Marc Molinaro, one of the delegation’s new members who represents parts of the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier.
“He’s literally taking all the oxygen out of the room,” said Rep. Anthony D’Esposito of Nassau County. “Any work that we can do on either side of the aisle that is beneficial to the people that we represent — the focus is on George Santos.”
Asked Wednesday afternoon whether being excluded from the meeting is problematic for his ability to do his job as a member of congress, Santos told Spectrum News NY1, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
His office later said it was “unfortunate” Santos was not included in the gathering, arguing that even though he has “temporarily” recused himself from committees, he is still a member of Congress.
The gathering was Hochul’s first with the wider delegation since the new members were sworn in last month.
.@GovKathyHochul has arrived on Capitol Hill for a meeting with the New York delegation. Her first with the new delegation that was sworn in in January.— Kevin Frey (@KevinFreyTV) February 8, 2023
Members from both parties are in attendance. pic.twitter.com/Ay6AQ7GNr5
Democrats and Republicans alike touted the meeting as constructive — even if there were some policy disagreements, including over the governor’s budget proposal.
Lawmakers each pressed their priorities.
“We have beaches to be restored, highways to be repaired, things that are essential to quality of life and property values,” said Rep. Nick LaLota, a Republican representing Long Island and one of the new members of the congressional delegation.
“We need to expand housing and actually build housing that’s affordable to New Yorkers,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat representing parts of Queens and the Bronx.
Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Hochul called for New Yorkers in Washington to ensure the Empire State is getting its fair share of resources from recent laws signed by the president — and expeditiously.
“I need them to be champions for more support, quicker approvals of some of the projects to get the infrastructure — shovels in the ground,” she said. “We’re very anxious to move ahead with a lot of the projects.”
The gathering came just one day after Santos grabbed headlines at the State of the Union address by staking out a seat on the center aisle, where he subsequently had a tense exchange with Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney.
Romney reportedly told Santos he does not belong in Congress. On Wednesday, Santos responded to Romney, saying, “It’s reprehensible that the senator would say such a thing to me in the demeaning way he said.”
“It wasn’t very Mormon of him,” Santos said.
Asked about the State of the Union, LaLota described Santos as a “sociopath” who “actually likes the negative attention.”
"George Santos can't help but to embarrass himself and he's a sociopath who actually likes the negative attention," @RepLaLota tells me, pointing to Santos's choice to sit on the center aisle at the #SOTU last night as an example— Kevin Frey (@KevinFreyTV) February 8, 2023