The US House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to censor and remove Arizona Representative Paul Gosar from his House committee duties, a strong rebuke after days of outcry over a violent animated video released on social networks.
After nearly four hours of debate, the vote for the sanction was 223-207, with all Democrats joined by two Republicans. The no came entirely from the Republican members of Congress, and one Republican voted “present”. Three Republicans did not vote.
It was the first vote of no confidence in more than a decade and one of a few dozen since the 19th century.
As a result, Gosar, a Republican who represents Arizona’s 4th District which includes Prescott and Lake Havasu City, will no longer sit on the Oversight and Reform Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.
The vote came after Gosar posted an anime-style video showing him killing Liberal MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., with a sword and threatening to harm President Joe Biden. The video has since been deleted.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is also a member of the oversight committee, spoke in favor of the move in a speech in the House.
“As leaders of this country, when we incite violence with representations against our colleagues, it turns into violence in this country. And this is where we have to draw the line regardless of party, identity. or belief, ”she said.
Gosar defended the video, saying it was a metaphor for the Democratic Party’s immigration policy, which he deems too weak to prevent a massive influx of undocumented people entering the country through the southern border. .
“For this cartoon, some in Congress are suggesting that I should be punished. I said decisively that there was no threat in the cartoon other than the threat that immigration poses to our country,” he said. Gosar said on the House floor, later comparing himself to Alexander Hamilton.
“No matter how much the left tries to silence me, I will continue to denounce amnesty to illegal aliens, defend the rule of law, and advance the ‘America First’ agenda.”
Growing concern for the safety of lawmakers
However, many lawmakers have heightened awareness of the security threats they face following the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.
“We cannot take the violent fantasies of Representative Gosar as a joke, because in this decade, in this America, someone is going to take him seriously,” said Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa. “He is a public figure, and as we vividly saw on January 6, the words and actions of public figures can easily serve as a spark for Tinder of radical extremism.”
Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida refuted Scanlon’s remarks and ridiculed the Democrats’ actions.
“Anime is fiction to the point of absurdity. It’s not really my thing and it glorifies violence but often symbolizes conflict, not realistic prejudice to another person,” he said. .
“In the last session we had, we reviewed Steve Bannon’s podcast. Today we’re criticizing Paul Gosar’s anime. Next week, we may indict the Wiley Coyote with an explosive order against the Road Runner. “
The two Republicans who voted to censor Gosar, Reps Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., And Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Were also the only GOP members on the Jan.6 committee.
Censorship of Congress is a rare punishment, with only about 20 members having received it in nearly 200 years. The last person to receive it was former rep Charles Rangel, DN.Y., for improper fundraising tactics and other issues in 2010.
Minority Parliamentary Leader Kevin McCarthy warned in his ground speech that Democrats had set “a new standard (which) will continue to be applied in the future,” lowering the threshold for the unusual and grim procedure to wishes of the ruling party.
Another Arizonan, Republican Representative David Schweikert, was reprimanded by Congress in July 2020 for failing to comply with campaign finance rules, among others.
Earlier this year, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., One of Gosar’s co-stars in her video, was stripped of her committee duties after controversial social media activity, including a ” I love “a post that said House Democratic President Nancy Pelosi should be eliminated with a” bullet to the head. ” Taylor Greene was not yet sworn in in Congress at the time.
Pelosi told the House on Wednesday: “We cannot let a member joke about killing each other or threatening the President of the United States.”
After the vote, Gosar defended himself again, writing in a press release: “Let’s not confuse real violence, backed by Democrats, with a simple caricature that does no harm but simply mocks globalists pushing for the opening of the borders, the amnesty and the destruction of our country, our republic.
Gosar has previously been criticized for his role in the Jan.6 uprising on the United States Capitol and for his ties to white nationalist organizations. His siblings have campaigned against him in the past and pushed for his expulsion from Congress.
He remained popular among his Arizona voters, however, winning nearly 70% of the vote when re-elected in 2020.
Gosar has been a GOP congressman for over a decade. The five-term congressman was first sworn in as Arizona’s 1st District Representative in 2011. Following the redistribution, he moved to the state’s 4th District service two years later.
Tara Kavaler is a political reporter for The Arizona Republic. She can be contacted by email at [email protected]