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

The South Carolina Republican Party voted to censure Rep. Tom RiceHugh (Tom) Thompson RiceLIVE COVERAGE: Tax hikes take center stage in Ways and Means markup Republicans hit Biden over Afghanistan, with eye on midterms Biden says deadly attack won't alter US evacuation mission in Afghanistan MORE (R-S.C.) for his vote earlier this month to impeach former President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence 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 SanfordBritain checking gun license applicants' social media, medical records Mark Sanford calls Graham 'a canary in the coalmine' on GOP's relationship with Trump Top cyber Pentagon official overseeing defense contractor project placed on leave 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 FlakeRubio vows to slow-walk Biden's China, Spain ambassador nominees Senate confirms Thomas Nides as US ambassador to Israel Flake, Cindy McCain among latest Biden ambassadors confirmed after delay MORE (R-Ariz.) and Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe bully who pulls the levers of Trump's mind never learns GOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News MORE (R-Ariz.), for criticizing Trump and Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyMace chief of staff steps down during turbulent week Trump to attend fundraiser for Arizona GOP Senate candidate Arizona defies demand it stop using COVID-19 relief money for anti-mask schools 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 CheneyKevin McCarthy is hostage to the GOP's 'exotic wing' Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth Prosecutors say North Carolina woman deserves prison for bringing 14-year-old to Capitol riot 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.