Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) told reporters Thursday that he would support a resolution to expel embattled Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) from Congress but such a measure would need 67 Senate votes to succeed.
Fetterman also said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) should call on Menendez to step down from office after federal prosecutors accused the New Jersey lawmaker Friday of bribery, fraud and extortion.
Asked if he would put forward a resolution to expel Menendez, Fetterman said, “whatever kinds of procedure that could bring about getting rid of him, I’m all for it, forcing it.”
“Honor, clearly, isn’t going to be the option to appeal to at this point,” he said, noting that Menendez has been “defiant” in pushing back calls for his resignation.
Asked if he would vote for a resolution to expel Menendez, Fetterman said, “Of course I would vote for that.”
Fetterman made his remarks to reporters after Menendez spoke to the Senate Democratic caucus behind closed doors about the criminal charges filed last week in the Southern District of New York.
The Pennsylvania senator said he did not attend the meeting because he wasn’t interested in hearing Menendez try to explain away or deflect the serious felony accusations.
Fetterman was the first Senate Democrat to call on Menendez to resign. Now the number has grown to more than half the Democratic caucus.
Fetterman also called on Schumer to demand Menendez’s resignation.
“I hope he does, but I’m not in a position to tell him what he should do. I hope he would; I hope he does,” he said. “I hope the rest of our [Democratic] caucus and the Republicans join us, the rest of us that have already made the right call on that.”
Schumer left the meeting with Menendez in the historic Mansfield Room and walked directly to the Senate floor without taking questions.
Any effort to expel Menendez would need Schumer’s support to come to the floor and the support of at least 17 Republicans. Democrats control 51 seats, but Menendez presumably wouldn’t vote for his own expulsion.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said Wednesday that expelling Menendez is “an issue for Democrats to deal with.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) declined to touch the controversial topic of expelling Menendez.
“I’m not going to comment,” he said.
Menendez didn’t take any questions and left the room by a side door to avoid the crowd of reporters who gathered in the hallway to ask the senator and his colleagues about the scandal.
— Updated at 2:48 p.m.