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South Carolina GOP votes to censure Rep. Rice over impeachment vote

The South Carolina Republican Party voted to censure Rep. Tom RiceHugh (Tom) Thompson RiceRepublicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Trump doubles down on endorsement of South Carolina GOP chair Forget Trump's behavior — let's focus on the GOP and America's future MORE (R-S.C.) for his vote earlier this month to impeach former President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict MORE in a rare rebuke of one of the party’s own lawmakers. 

The censure formally condemns Rice for his surprise vote to impeach Trump over his role in inciting the violent mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, which led to the deaths of several people.

The party noted that the resolution reprimanding Rice was started at the grassroots level in a county in his district and that the impeachment vote came as Trump was leaving office.

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“Trying to impeach a president, with a week left in his term, is never legitimate and is nothing more than a political kick on the way out the door,” said Drew McKissick, the chairman of the South Carolina GOP. “Congressman Rice’s vote unfortunately played right into the Democrats’ game, and the people in his district, and ultimately our State Executive Committee, wanted him to know they wholeheartedly disagree with his decision.”

A spokesperson for Rice did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

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The censure resolution does not come with any tangible punishment, but the vote marks a reproach for a sitting lawmaker by his own party. The move also underscores the risks Republicans still take by going against the former president, who remains popular with the GOP base.

The South Carolina Republican Party last censured a Republican more than 10 years ago, when it voted to approve a similar resolution for then-Gov. Mark SanfordMark SanfordLobbying world 5 lawyers leave Trump impeachment team ahead of trial: reports South Carolina GOP votes to censure Rep. Rice over impeachment vote MORE after he admitted traveling to Argentina to carry out an extramarital affair.

Rice is just the latest Republican to face this kind of blowback from his own party.

The Arizona Republican Party censured former Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFive reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain Former GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' MORE (R-Ariz.) and Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain'Real Housewives of the GOP' — Wannabe reality show narcissists commandeer the party George W. Bush: 'It's a problem that Americans are so polarized' they can't imagine him being friends with Michelle Obama Congress brings back corrupt, costly, and inequitably earmarks MORE (R-Ariz.), for criticizing Trump and Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceySex ed rules passed in Arizona would require parents to sign off on LGBT discussions, info Republican legislators target private sector election grants More GOP-led states risk corporate backlash like Georgia's MORE (R) for emergency restrictions he has implemented to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Ducey has also been critical of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. 

Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax Republicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Freedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MORE (Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican, is facing broad blowback in Wyoming over her vote to impeach Trump, with House conservatives circulating a petition to remove her from her leadership post and some lawmakers openly backing a primary challenge to her in 2022.

Still, Rice’s vote to impeach Trump came as a shock to Republicans given that he had not been vocal in his criticism of Trump throughout his four-year presidency and supported Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns. He is now expected to face a primary challenge next year.