February 4, 2023
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Texas Republican Roger Williams defends giving Santos spot on small business committee

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WASHINGTON — Social media lit up after news this week that embattled New York Republican Rep. George Santos had landed spots on two U.S. House committees, one focused on science and another on small business.

Santos has come under fire for making false claims about his college education, work history and other qualifications.

So online critics had fun with his committee assignments, including one under Texas Republican Rep. Roger Williams, the new chairman of the House Small Business Committee.

Many of the quips involved citing imagined qualifications such as being a NASA astronaut or self-made titan of business.

“Republicans have put George Santos, who founded Apple in his garage in 1976, on the House Small Business Committee,” tweeted left-leaning commentator Brian Tyler Cohen. “A true American success story.”

Santos claimed to have earned degrees he did not and put Goldman Sachs and Citigroup on his resume, but both companies told the New York Times they had no record of his working there.

A number of his fellow Republicans, including several from New York, have called for him to resign. But many have sidestepped the issue, despite the ridicule.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has said he defers to the voters who elected Santos.

Republicans face a simple but tough political reality. With a super-slim majority, every vote is critically important and Santos represents a swing district.

If he were to resign, Democrats would have a good chance of flipping the seat and making the GOP majority even thinner.

Williams, R-Willow Park, is taking over as chairman of the House Small Business Committee.

During an interview with CNN, Williams defended Santos receiving a spot on the committee with the same rationale employed by McCarthy.

“I don’t condone what he said, what he’s done. I don’t think anybody does. But that’s not my role,” Williams told the network. “He was elected. He represents a million people.”

Santos did not receive a coveted spot on what are considered the A-list House committees.

Appropriations controls the flow of vast sums of federal money while the Ways and Means Committee is responsible for writing the tax code and shaping U.S. trade policies.

The Energy and Commerce Committee boasts a sweeping jurisdiction that covers everything from telecommunications to health care.

Republican leaders also kept him off committees that are focused on sensitive national security issues.

While small business is widely viewed as a relatively low-level assignment, Williams has touted the work his panel can do this session by focusing on straightforward proposals Democrats would have a hard time opposing.

He has said that includes cutting federal regulations to allow small business owners to thrive and bolster the overall U.S. economy.

And part of the mission he has identified for the panel is pushing back on anti-capitalism rhetoric.

“We’re going to be a happy committee, we’re not going to be an angry committee,” Williams told The Dallas Morning News after securing the chairmanship.

But the addition of Santos could undermine the committee’s credibility when it comes to Republicans taking American small business concerns seriously.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked during her Wednesday briefing whether Santos should resign.

Jean-Pierre sought to use his spot on the small business committee to draw a contrast between House Republicans and the Biden administration when it comes to economic policy.

“Just looking at the committee that he has been assigned to, when it comes to Biden’s economic plan and when it comes to the announcement that I made yesterday when it comes to small business,” Jean-Pierre said.

She cited figures that 10 million small businesses have been created so far under the Biden administration. And she said whether Santos should be pushed out of Congress is a decision for House Republicans.

“This is up to the Republican conference to show what they think they owe the American people,” she said.

Williams has cast himself as a good fit to run the committee by citing his decades in charge of a car dealership and a calf-cow operation.

Williams told Axios this week he would find a way for Santos to add value to the committee and cited his own experience as a boss responsible for keeping people on the straight and narrow.

“I employ hundreds of people right now in Texas,” Williams said. “I’ve been through everything. This is not something that I’m new at.”





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