Democrat Tom Suozzi sworn into the House, shrinking the GOP's fragile majority

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WASHINGTON — After a convincing special election victory, New York Democrat Tom Suozzi was sworn into the House on Wednesday night to fill the vacancy left by last year’s historic expulsion of Republican George Santos.

Suozzi's swearing-in further reduces House Republicans' razor-thin majority — one of the smallest ever — to 219-213 at a time when Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has been struggling to corral his rank-and-file members and carry out the basic functions of government.

The return of Suozzi, who previously served in the House, means that Johnson’s leadership team can afford only two GOP defections on any vote if all Democrats vote in opposition. Before the House left for its Presidents Day recess, Republicans managed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas by a single-vote margin, 214-213, after failing to do so on the first try.

Suozzi, 61, represented New York’s 3rd District from 2017 to 2023, but he left Congress to launch an unsuccessful bid for governor. Santos, an unknown political neophyte, won the swing seat based in Long Island and Queens for Republicans in 2022.

But after stunning revelations that Santos had fabricated large parts of his resume and personal story to win election, the Justice Department indicted him on 23 counts, including crimes such as wire fraud, falsifying federal records and money laundering. Santos has pleaded not guilty and is set to go to trial in September.

Earlier this month, Suozzi, a former county executive and mayor on Long Island, easily defeated Republican Mazi Pilip in the special election to replace Santos, handing Democrats a boost of momentum as they seek to take back control of the House this fall.

Immigration and the border are normally a vulnerability for Democrats on the ballot, but Suozzi faced the prickly issues head-on, attacking Republicans for walking away from a bipartisan deal to shore up the southern border and deal with a record number of migrant crossings.

“It’s time to get to work on immigration, on Israel, and combating Putin,” Suozzi said at his election night victory party. “Let’s send a message to our friends running the Congress these days: Stop running around for Trump and start running the country.”

Democrats praised Suozzi’s approach as a “roadmap for Democrats” in November.

“Tom Suozzi ran a positive campaign. Tom Suozzi talked about fixing problems like the challenges we have at the border. Tom Suozzi talked about common sense solutions and finding bipartisan common ground. Tom Suozzi won,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a fellow New York Democrat, said after Democrats notched the victory.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com