WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, chided Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., on Tuesday night ahead of President Joe Biden’s address in what appeared to be a tense exchange on the House floor.
Santos, who has faced calls to resign after he admitted having lied about much of his background, had positioned himself along the chamber’s middle aisle ahead of Biden’s speech. Lawmakers will often choose to sit along the aisle for the State of the Union so they can greet and shake hands with the president as he enters and walks toward the dais.
As senators made their way into the House, Romney had a brief exchange with Santos, who looked annoyed as Romney walked away. Romney spoke to reporters about the interaction after Biden’s address.
“He’s a sick puppy. He shouldn’t have been there,” he said of Santos’ standing in the aisle.
“Given the fact that he’s under ethics investigation, he should be sitting in the back row and being quiet instead of parading in front of the president,” he added.
A member of Congress who was near the uncomfortable moment told NBC News that Romney told Santos he does not belong in Congress.
Later on, Santos heckled Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, on Twitter.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters earlier Tuesday that while there have been complaints about Santos, the Ethics Committee has not formally opened an investigation.
Last month, McCarthy said Santos, who is the subject of multiple legal investigations, would be removed from office if the Ethics Committee found he broke the law after he admitted having fabricated parts of his background.
Santos said last month he would temporarily recuse himself from his committee assignments amid the investigations into his finances and other issues.