House is Set to Censure Paul Gosar for Violent Video

WASHINGTON — House Democrats will move on Wednesday to censure Arizona Republican Paul Gosar, stripping him of committee duties for posting an animated video of him killing a Democratic congressman and attacking President Biden.

The vote of censure, the most severe punishment the House of Representatives could face without expulsion, comes a week after Mr. Gosar used his official social media accounts to distribute a video, borrowed from a popular anime programme. The video has been modified to show Mr. Gosar’s face cutting the neck of another character bearing the face of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, swinging swords at Mr. Biden.

Democrats will also move to remove Mr. Gosar from his seats on the House oversight and natural resources committees, denying him any opportunity to influence legislation or oversight in Congress.

The reprimand would be the first since the chamber took the same action in 2010 against Democratic Representative Charles B. Rangel, who was convicted of tax evasion and other ethical violations after a months-long investigation by the ethics committee.

But there was one major difference: This action was taken by a Democratic House against a prominent and powerful Democrat. Mr. Gosar is a member of the minority party, and Republicans have refused to publicly condemn his behavior or punish him in any way.

While the censure is one of the harshest punishments the House of Representatives can implement, it is a largely symbolic gesture intended to humiliate the named legislator. It requires a simple majority vote, and the respective member of the House of Representatives standing before his colleagues to receive a verbal reprimand and have his dissent read out.

Council leaders have historically refrained from using punishment to discipline lawmakers. The censure has been directed at fewer than twenty members since the early nineteenth century.

But the move to assign blame to Mr. Gosar reflects deep anger among Democrats at what they see as incitement to violence against a political opponent, and comes at a time when mainstream Republicans have become more tolerant of threatening statements and their core supporters appear ready. Act on this language, as some did during the January 6 riots at the Capitol.

“Isn’t there decency here anymore? Isn’t there decency?” asked Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts. “Threats against members of Congress are increasing. We cannot sit back and accept actions like this as if they were the new normal.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday that Mr. Gosar’s behavior constituted an “emergency situation” that must be addressed by the House of Representatives.

Mr. Gosar, who has long uploaded plots and other outlandish content from the far right on the internet, did not apologize for posting the video, instead trying to downplay its significance. He claimed in a statement that it was nothing more than a “symbolic depiction of the fight over immigration policy” and said he would not “advocate violence or harm to any member of Congress.” He specifically blamed his aides for spreading it.

“It’s an iconic cartoon,” Gosar said in a statement. “This is not real life.”

In practical terms, Mr. Gosar may be more impressed by the move to strip him of his duties on the commission — particularly his position on the Natural Resources Commission, a crucial platform for an Arizona lawmaker.

However, after Democrats unilaterally moved to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, Georgian Republican, of her committee duties for pre-election social media posts in which she supported violence against Democrats in Congress, far-right voters rallied to her side and posted. Record numbers for fundraising.

Some Republicans have warned that when they are in the majority — which may come as soon as 2023 — they will not hesitate to take advantage of the precedents set by Democrats to exercise their power against members of the minority party.

“In the coming years, this precedent may be used to give majority vetoes of minority committee assignments,” said Representative Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma. “This is a dangerous and dark path down which the establishment is going down.”

In the early days of the Republic, blame was more common, and its use often reflected the times. The first censure, in 1842, fell on Representative William Stanbury for insulting the speaker.

Then came the lead-up to the Civil War and its prosecution: Joshua Giddings was reprimanded in 1842 for introducing a series of anti-slavery resolutions that violated a rule banning even debate on slavery in the House of Representatives; Laurence M. Keitt, in 1856, for aiding the infamous caning of an abolitionist senator by a pro-slavery member of the House of Representatives; Then two members in 1864 to encourage and support the Confederacy.

Between 1866 and 1875, 11 members were blamed for actual violence—Lovell H. Russo for assaulting Representative Josiah Grenell with a stick—corruption (such as selling appointments to the Military Academy) and “unparliamentary language.”

Blame fell into favour, and the standard was raised significantly during the 20th century. In 1978, Rep. Charles H. was reprimanded. Diggs after being found guilty of 11 counts of mail fraud and 18 counts of false statements in a payroll fraud investigation.

One day in 1983, Rep. Jerry E. floor.

The censure came in 2010 to Mr. Rangel, chair of the Strong Ways and Means Committee, after the Ethics Committee found that he had committed 11 violations.

Leave a Comment