Gosar faces increasing odds of censure on House floor

The chances of the House voting to censure Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarMcCarthy says he'll strip Dems of committee slots if GOP wins House Should we expand the House of Representatives? The Founders thought so Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Ariz.) are rising amid simmering anger among Democrats over a video he distributed that showed him as an anime character killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSen. Brian Schatz tests positive for COVID-19 Democrats call on FDA to revisit ban on gay, bisexual men donating blood amid shortage Senate Democrats introduce bill to ban stock trades in Congress MORE (D-N.Y.).

Pressure is mounting on Democratic leaders to bring a resolution introduced Friday by Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Democrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit MORE (D-Calif.) and 60 other Democrats to the House floor as rank-and-file members argue that his actions merit extraordinary sanction at a time when members of Congress face unprecedented threats of violence. 

At least two Republicans signaled in recent days that they could also support censuring Gosar amid widening fears about how heated rhetoric and violent imagery can lead to actual political violence.


So far this year, Democratic leaders have held off on allowing House floor votes to censure several other House Republicans, primarily related to promoting former President TrumpDonald TrumpWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report MORE’s false claims about the 2020 election or downplaying the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

Yet many Democrats feel that Gosar’s actions this time go beyond the pale, especially while GOP leaders have remained publicly silent. 

Speier said she is planning to meet Monday with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP senator knocks Biden for 'spreading things that are untrue' in voting rights speech Sen. Ron Johnson: Straight from the horse's mouth Clyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' MORE (D-Calif.), who called for ethics and law enforcement investigations into Gosar.

“It is yet another example of inciting violence,” Speier told The Hill. “And the more we normalize this, the more likely we're going to see something tragic happen.”

“People need to recognize words matter. Conduct matters. And if you are going to threaten people, there’s going to be repercussions.”

Republican Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump MORE (Wyo.) and Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Republican rep who voted to impeach Trump running for reelection MORE (Ill.) have signaled that they would support censuring Gosar — a significant shift from previous censure debates.


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyFormer acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump MORE (R-Calif.) has yet to publicly comment on the Gosar video — which also depicted the Arizona Republican swinging swords at President BidenJoe BidenCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Wendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Sullivan: 'It's too soon to tell' if Texas synagogue hostage situation part of broader extremist threat MORE — or on the attacks in recent days against the 13 House Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Some of the 13 Republicans have received death threats in recent days for helping deliver a legislative victory for Biden.

Democrats initially tried to put pressure on McCarthy to publicly rebuke Gosar earlier this past week. Pelosi urged McCarthy to condemn the video, while the chairs of House Democrats’ communications arm issued a joint statement declaring that McCarthy “needs to decide whether he will finally stand with the American people on the side of law and order or he will continue to support violence and chaos.”

But now, some think it’s time to take the matter into their own hands.

“I fundamentally believe that we as a body should take action,” said Rep. Brenda LawrenceBrenda Lulenar LawrenceHouse Democrats inquire about possible census undercount in Detroit, other communities Hillicon Valley — YouTube takes some heat Michigan Democrat to introduce plan to create 'digital literacy' commission MORE (D-Mich.), who also serves as a Democratic Women’s Caucus co-chair.

“If we sit silent, it becomes normal for a member to use a dog whistle of violence against a sitting member and against a sitting president, for crying out loud. Is this okay? And is it okay for those who represent over 700,000 people in this country as a collective body to just turn our heads? We've seen where that gets us,” Lawrence said.

Pelosi has yet to say if she supports censuring Gosar and bringing the measure to the House floor for a vote. A spokesman didn’t return a request for comment from The Hill. 

Gosar defended the video as “symbolic” of the debate over immigration and maintained that “I do not espouse violence or harm towards any Member of Congress or Mr. Biden.”

But Gosar removed the video from Twitter on Tuesday following the outcry.

This isn’t the first time that some Democrats have pushed to censure Gosar this year. 

In May, Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineDemocrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit In their own words: Lawmakers, staffers remember Jan. 6 insurrection Lawmakers call for investigation into proposed AT&T WarnerMedia, Discovery merger MORE (D-R.I.) introduced a resolution to censure Gosar for saying during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing that a rioter fatally shot outside the House chamber on Jan. 6 was “executed” and that the Justice Department is “harassing peaceful patriots across the country.”

But that measure hasn’t gone anywhere, nor have any of the other resolutions this year to censure Republican Reps. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertFocus on Perry could mean more subpoenas, challenges for Jan. 6 panel Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 House Ethics panel dismisses security screening fine issued to GOP lawmaker MORE (Texas), Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksJudge questions Trump's claim of 'absolute immunity' in Jan. 6 lawsuits Alabama GOP gears up for fierce Senate primary clash Democratic super PAC ties Trump allies to Jan. 6 in new ad campaign MORE (Ala.), Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP efforts to downplay danger of Capitol riot increase The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida MORE (Ga.), Andrew Clyde (Ga.) and Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceSecretary of state races come under red-hot focus Watchdog finds fundraising spikes for Ga., Mich., Minn. secretary of state candidates Raffensperger knocks 'double-minded' Trump-endorsed challenger MORE (Ga.). 

Democrats, along with 11 Republicans, did vote to boot Greene from House committees in February for her past embrace of conspiracy theories and apparent endorsements of violence against Democrats.


Gosar’s latest actions prompted Kinzinger and Cheney, who have broken with the GOP on its continued embrace of Trump, to take the rare move of endorsing censure against a member of their own party. 

Cheney said in an interview with The Associated Press that Gosar should be censured “for his continued indefensible activities,” while Kinzinger told CNN that he “would intend to vote yes.”

“I don’t care if it’s a Republican or a Democrat, we cannot in this country, Wolf, get to a point where using anime even, which is creepy in and of itself, but using anime or regular videos or deep fakes or even just tweeted threats against a sitting member of Congress can be acceptable. It is never acceptable. It can’t be acceptable,” Kinzinger told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. 

Their support for censuring Gosar would give Democrats some bipartisan cover for going down a path that they’ve otherwise hesitated to follow this year — even if the behavior of some Republicans has infuriated members of the rank-and-file. 

Just 23 lawmakers have been censured in the House’s history. The last time a House member was censured was in 2010, when former Rep. Charlie RangelCharles (Charlie) Bernard RangelHouse votes to censure Gosar and boot him from committees Pelosi on Gosar punishment: 'It's an emergency' Only two Republicans expected to back censuring Gosar MORE (D-N.Y.) was found guilty of ethics violations ranging from misusing congressional letterhead for fundraising to failing to pay taxes on a vacation home in the Dominican Republic. 

McCarthy, meanwhile, forced a procedural floor vote in April to censure Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersRemedying injustice for the wrongfully convicted does not end when they are released McCarthy says he'll strip Dems of committee slots if GOP wins House A presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day MORE (D-Calif.) after she said “we’ve got to get more confrontational” about police brutality against African Americans.


House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel Lobbying world MORE (D-Md.) warned at the time that Republicans’ insistence on forcing that vote could make it harder for Democrats to justify holding back on censuring some GOP members. 

“As my friend the leader knows, we haven’t had all the resolutions that have been introduced on my side of the aisle,” Hoyer said in response to McCarthy. “This makes it harder, however, not to proceed on numerous resolutions on my side of the aisle.”

Speier said that this time should be different compared to the other censure efforts that ultimately went nowhere. 

“I believe it should be,” Speier said.