Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? Man who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday defended the Democrats' decision to punish Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarJan. 6 committee subpoenas leaders of 'America First' movement Lawmakers coming under increased threats — sometimes from one another McCarthy says he'll strip Dems of committee slots if GOP wins House MORE, saying the Arizona Republican crossed a bright red line — and may have committed criminal acts — in posting an animated video in which he kills a Democratic congresswoman and threatens the same fate of President BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE.
"Because it's an emergency," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.
"[There are] legal matters in terms of threatening a member and threatening the president of the United States," she added. "We have to address it immediately, and I'm so pleased that our members understand that this is central to our work in Congress that we protect the integrity of the House, of the institution, but also the lives of our members."
The remarks came just hours before House Democrats will hold a vote on a resolution to censure Gosar and remove him from his assignments on the Oversight and Reform and the Natural Resources committees. The censure option is extremely rare — it was last used to punish Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) in 2010 — and represents the last worst punishment available to House leaders before a member is expelled.
Stripping members of committee assignments is slightly more common; Democrats already voted this year to remove Rep. 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 (R-Ga.) from her positions on the Education and the Budget committees for a series of racist and violent statements she'd posted on social media.
Gosar has been under intense scrutiny since last week, when he tweeted an animated video depicting himself and other Republicans as heroic warriors fighting against Democrats, interspersed with footage of migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border.
The edited video features characters from the Japanese anime series "Attack on Titan," their faces replaced with pictures of Gosar and two other conservative firebrands — Reps. Lauren BoebertLauren BoebertMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House Boebert asked Jewish visitors to Capitol if they were doing 'reconnaissance': report GOP Reps. Greene, Clyde accrue nearly 0K in combined mask fines MORE (R-Colo.) and Greene — who bound around the screen with various weapons. In one scene, Gosar's character executes another character, doctored to depict Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMan who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Missouri House Democrat becomes latest to test positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-N.Y.), by striking her in the back of the neck with a sword.
In another, Gosar confronts Biden head-on with two swords drawn.
In promoting the video to his Twitter followers, Gosar asked, "Any anime fans out there?"
Gosar has since removed the video from his Twitter account, but he has refused to apologize, saying the video was merely a "symbolic cartoon" designed to highlight the Democrats' immigration policies.
GOP leaders have also declined to weigh in on Gosar's violent video. Their criticism in recent weeks has been focused instead on the 13 Republican lawmakers who joined Democrats earlier this month to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which Biden signed into law on Monday. Although infrastructure is widely popular among voters — and the legislation was bipartisan, enjoying the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team McConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 MORE (R-Ky.) — it was fervently opposed by former President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE, prompting House Republicans to oppose it overwhelmingly.
Pelosi on Wednesday hammered GOP leaders for declining to address Gosar's actions internally, as they'd done in 2019 with Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingJuan Williams: McCarthy's inaction is a disgrace Omar allies dig in on calls for Boebert punishment Pressure grows to remove Boebert from committees MORE (R-Iowa), who'd defended white supremacy.
"It is outrageous on the part of the Republican leadership not to act upon this," Pelosi said.