The House censured Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) Wednesday, stripping him of his committee assignments for posting an animated video of himself killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attacking President Joe Biden on his social media accounts.
Only two Republicans joined the House Democrats in voting in favor of the censure resolution: Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) voted “present.”
After the vote, Gosar stood in the well of the House as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) read the censure aloud.
“This is not an issue about party,” Cheney told reporters after her vote, calling Gosar’s post “completely unacceptable.” “I think that it’s really important for us to be very clear that violence has no place in our political discourse.”
It’s the first time in over a decade that a sitting House member has been censured. Gosar previously sat on the Committee on Natural Resources and Committee on Oversight and Reform.
In public, Gosar has remained unapologetic, with his digital director Jessica Lycos saying “everyone needs to relax” in response to the backlash. In private, Gosar reportedly apologized — to the House Republican caucus.
Just before the vote, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) focused on Democrats’ “abuse of power” instead of Gosar’s post.
“The Speaker is burning down the House on her way out the door,” he said.
Ocasio-Cortez initially responded to Gosar’s video from the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, accusing McCarthy of “cheering him on” and listing recent episodes where her Republican colleagues have threatened and denigrated her.
In the video, Gosar’s face is superimposed on a character that stabs a monster, altered to look like Ocasio-Cortez, in the neck. Later in the video, the Gosar character raises two swords to Biden’s face, preparing to strike. The video is spliced with images of immigrants, one blood-splattered, and law enforcement at the southern border. The words “drugs,” “crime,” “poverty,” “money,” “murder,” “gangs,” “violence” and “trafficking” flit across the screen.
Democrats have been uniformly outraged about the video. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) described his reaction Wednesday morning to reporters as “horror, disgust, disdain, anger.” Pelosi said it was “outrageous” that Republicans refused to act on their own, later characterizing the post as “violence against women.”
House Republicans, on the whole, have been more focused on punishing the 13 members who voted with Democrats to pass the bipartisan infrastructure law. McCarthy reportedly urged his members calling for retribution against their colleagues to stand down amid Democrats’ push to pass the reconciliation bill — but left the possibility of future punishment for the defectors open-ended.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who like Gosar was booted from her committees for cheering violence against her Democratic colleagues online, suggested Tuesday that McCarthy’s future as speaker should Republicans retake the House is threatened by his reluctance to punish those who voted with the Democrats.
Gosar has long rubbed elbows with racist and anti-Semitic elements, cozying up to white supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, speaking at a conference where Fuentes bemoaned the United States losing its “white demographic core” and counting white nationalists among those he follows on social media.