Gosar is the Republican that Democrats want to avoid

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) is finding that Democrats who once worked with him on bipartisan bills no longer want to touch them with a 10-foot pole if he’s involved. 

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) last week removed himself as a co-sponsor from a bill authored by Gosar that would crack down on illegal foreign donations to political campaigns.

A California Democrat, Rep. Mike Levin, said he informed Gosar that it would be “detrimental” to the chances of a public lands bill becoming law if his name were on it, even though they introduced it together in the last session of Congress. 

Both Moulton and Levin are distancing themselves from Gosar after the Arizona Republican recently downplayed the severity of the Jan. 6 insurrection. He also promoted “Stop the Steal” events across the country ahead of the attack on the Capitol by a mob of former President Trump’s supporters.

Earlier this month, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) similarly refused to co-author a drug bill with another Republican, Rep. Buddy Carter (Ga.), who voted to challenge the presidential election results in her state.

The refusal among Democrats to team up with Republicans, even on noncontroversial bills, underscores how deeply the divisions over Jan. 6 are permeating the legislative process and further poisoning relations between the two parties.

The tensions spilled over during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on Monday to discuss the bill Levin introduced last week that would promote renewable energy development on public lands.

Levin said he told Gosar in a conversation on the House floor that “having his name at the top” could imperil the bill’s chances of becoming law. He declined to let Gosar be an original co-sponsor, but told him that he was welcome to sign on as a co-sponsor after its introduction like any other House member.

“My only goal is to see this bill signed into law, and it’s clear that having Rep. Gosar as a co-lead could be detrimental to that goal given his support for insurrectionists who attacked our Capitol on Jan. 6,” Levin said. 

Levin clarified that his stance doesn’t apply to every Republican who voted to challenge the presidential election results. 

But Levin said Gosar went too far when he said at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing this month that a rioter shot by a Capitol Police officer for trying to break into the Speaker’s Lobby was a “veteran wrapped in an American flag” who was “executed.”

Gosar also said at the hearing that “outright propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding U.S. citizens, especially Trump voters.”

Levin said while he would still work with Republican lawmakers, he would stop short of GOP members he believed condoned violence.

“I will continue to work with members across the ideological spectrum, including those who voted against certifying the Electoral College results, but I have to draw the line at those who support violent insurrectionists over our democracy,” Levin said.

Gosar bristled at the denial of a leading role on the public lands bill, instead opting to introduce his own virtually identical competing measure last week.

“It is regrettable that what has been an extremely broad bipartisan effort for several congresses has now devolved into a rank partisan power play by the Democratic majority,” Gosar said.

But the public lands bill isn’t the only Gosar-authored legislation losing Democratic support. 

Moulton and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) formally withdrew their co-sponsorship last week of Gosar’s bill to make it harder for foreign entities to illegally donate to U.S. political campaigns online.

Eshoo’s office didn’t return messages seeking comment. But a spokesperson for Moulton confirmed that the Massachusetts Democrat withdrew from the bill because of Gosar’s stances about Jan. 6. 

The spokesperson said Moulton — who recently returned from parental leave — was asked in December by Gosar’s office to be a co-sponsor again when the bill was reintroduced in the new session of Congress. But since the insurrection, Moulton removed himself from Gosar’s foreign campaign donations legislation and plans to withdraw from another Gosar bill to provide expedited Transportation Security Administration screening at airports to severely injured or disabled veterans.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) introduced a resolution last week to censure Gosar, as well as two other Republicans who also downplayed the severity of Jan. 6 at the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing.

It’s not yet clear if other Republicans will refuse to back the version of the public lands bill from Levin if it reaches the House floor.

Earlier this month, Republicans voted against a bill en masse after Dean, one of the House prosecutors in Trump’s second impeachment trial after the insurrection, refused to let Carter sign on as an original co-sponsor of a bill meant to help more treatments for opioid use go to market.

“I said, I need to take a stand, at least in terms of lead co-sponsorship, that I will not lift up as a leader somebody who voted not to certify the election when that was connected to an insurrection, a lot of disinformation, and sadly, many of our constituents misled,” Dean said.

The House eventually passed the bill 402-23 a week later after Democrats brought it to the floor a second time under a process only requiring a simple majority for passage. 

Other Republican members of the House Natural Resources Committee defended Gosar and warned Democrats that they were setting a bad precedent to deny partnership on legislation.

“I respectfully ask each and every Democrat here to reflect on the precedent being set and what that could mean should things look different two years from now,” said Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.).

But Democrats say they’re uncomfortable participating in business as usual with GOP colleagues attempting to whitewash the violent attempt by Trump’s supporters to stop Congress from counting the Electoral College votes certifying President Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.

Refusing to team up on bills with Republicans distorting the facts of the Jan. 6 insurrection, they argue, isn’t just about an unrelated policy disagreement; it’s about valuing democracy itself.

“I guarantee that if my party found itself in the minority — which it won’t — then I could guarantee you that none of us — none of us — would be involved in organizing and promoting the big lie,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in response to Stauber.

“We know that we all agree on the policy. But it’s important to note the attack on the Capitol was a threat to our democracy,” Grijalva said of the competing bills introduced by Levin and Gosar.

“Any whitewashing attempts to recast what all of us saw, heard and felt on Jan. 6 to the Capitol as something that was no big deal?” Grijalva said. “Well, democracy is a big deal.”

Tags Anna Eshoo Buddy Carter David Cicilline Donald Trump Joe Biden Madeleine Dean Mike Levin Paul Gosar Pete Stauber Seth Moulton
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