The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve a resolution that censures Rep. Paul Gosar and strips him of his two committee assignments, and it is the first time a sitting House member has been censured since 2010.
Gosar, a loyalist of Donald Trump and one of the most far-right members of Congress, sat in the chamber and listened as his colleagues debated the censure against him – the harshest form of punishment the chamber can mete short of expulsion.
Following the censure, Gosar, forced to stand in the middle of the House chamber as a statement condemning his actions is read to him in front of all the members. Additionally, he’ll lose his two committee assignments, including seats on the Oversight Committee and the Natural Resources Committee, the penalty Democrats also included in this resolution.
“This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a speech before the vote. “This is about what we are willing to accept.”
“What is so hard about saying that this is wrong?” she asked.
.@AOC: “As leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country. And that is where we must draw the line.” https://t.co/pCaDNQIgx9 pic.twitter.com/TCdd2GW1HG
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) November 17, 2021
The action led by House Democrats represents a major rebuke to the Arizona Republican for posting a photoshopped anime video on social media, a video showing him appearing to kill Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joe Biden.
Gosar, as he took the floor, tried to pin the video on unnamed staffers in his office, claiming that he did “not espouse violence toward anyone,” he said that he only scrubbed the video from his social media accounts “for those who genuinely felt offense.” He added that the video was meant to help his followers understand the “real-life battle facing this administration’s open border policies” and “Biden’s reckless, socialist, Marxist $4.9 trillion spending bill.” Gosar closed it by suggesting that he is a patriotic martyr, as he likened himself to one of America’s Founding Fathers. “If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censured by this House, so be it. It is done,” he said. In response to Gosar’s self-aggrandizing, Rep. David Cicilline later remarked, “Mr. Gosar, you are no Alexander Hamilton. You must be held accountable.”
The final vote was 223 against 207. Republicans Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming voted with all the Democrats for the censure resolution. Republican Rep. David Joyce of Ohio voted present, meaning he took no sides.
Though, Gosar took down the video after facing criticism but did not apologize. And about an hour after being censured, Gosar retweeted a tweet praising him that also included the video.
While Democrats have broadly condemned Gosar’s actions, Republicans, and he made a statement that he doesn’t support violence, and he took the video down,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a CNN interview.
Ahead of the vote, Gosar was defiant and in remarks said “for this cartoon, some in the current Congress suggest I should be punished. I have said decisively there is no threat in the cartoon other than the threat that immigration poses to our country. And no threat was intended by my staff or me,” he said.
“I voluntarily took the cartoon down not because it was itself a threat, but because some thought it was. Out of compassion for those who generally felt offense, I self-censored” Gosar said.