- The House voted on Wednesday to censure Rep. Paul Gosar and remove him from two committees.
- Only Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger voted to condemn Gosar over his violent AOC anime video.
- Republican Rep. David Joyce, who serves on the ethics committee, voted “present.”
Just two Republicans broke with their party and joined every Democrat to censure GOP Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and remove him from his committees.
Only Republican Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois voted for it. Another Republican, Rep. David Joyce of Ohio, voted “present.”
Censure refers to a formal condemnation of an elected official. The disciplinary measure comes after Gosar posted an edited anime video depicting him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Gosar became the 24th House member in history who has been censured. The last time the House voted to censure a member was in 2010, when then-Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel was rebuked over ethics violations.
Cheney and Kinzinger, who both serve on the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol, were unequivocal in their support for the resolution.
“We have to hold Members accountable who incite or glorify violence, who spread and perpetuate dangerous conspiracies,” Kinzinger said in a statement ahead of the vote. “The failure to do so will take us one step closer to this fantasized violence becoming real.”After days of silence from Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on the video, Cheney told the Associated Press last week that “it’s a real symbol of his lack of strength, the lack of leadership in our conference right now, and the extent to which he and other leaders seem to have lost their moral compass.”
Kinzinger is not seeking re-election, while Cheney faces a primary challenger from former RNC committeewoman Harriet Hageman, who’s been endorsed by former President Trump. The Wyoming GOP voted on Tuesday to no longer recognize Cheney as a Republican.
Joyce, who serves on the House Ethics Committee, said his “present” vote was a matter of fairness.
“How can I be fair and impartial as a member of the ethics committee unless you listen to the evidence that’s going to be presented to that committee?” he told reporters on his way to a meeting of that committee. “So I don’t want to prejudge anyone.”
‘I think kicking people off committees is bad.’
The video, which Gosar posted on Twitter on November 7, featured an edited version of the opening credits of a Japanese animated series called “Attack on Titan,” a show that is centered on a hero who fights giant creatures called Titans. In the 90-second clip, Gosar, along with fellow GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, are seen attacking the “Titan” characters. Gosar’s face is superimposed over one character that kills a Titan with Ocasio-Cortez’s face on it. Gosar’s character also swings two swords at a Titan with Biden’s face on it. The tweet was captioned: “Any anime fans out there?”
Gosar has also sought to defend the video, both in private with his GOP colleagues on Tuesday and via public statements. “The cartoon depicts the symbolic nature of a battle between lawful and unlawful policies and in no way intended to be a targeted attack against Representative Cortez or Mr. Biden,” Gosar said in a November 9 statement in which he misspelled Ocasio-Cortez’s last name.
McCarthy, who first spoke on the issue this week, has largely stayed in Gosar’s corner. And Republicans generally cited the precedent that committee removal would set in justifying their votes against the resolution.
“If there would have stuck to a censure or reprimand, I likely would have been there,” Rep. Don Bacon told reporters after the vote. Bacon was one of the 13 Republicans to vote for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill. “But I think kicking people off committees is bad.”
Kinzinger and Cheney, for their part, are only likely to face more backlash from their own party. The GOP is roiling with tension after 13 House Republicans voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill last week, nine Republicans voted to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress, and 10 Republicans voted to impeach former President Donald Trump in February.
“We all know they’re Democrats anyhow,” Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia told Insider, referring to Cheney and Kinzinger. Greene also said she had asked McCarthy to kick the duo out of the GOP conference entirely.
“The excuse I was given by Kevin McCarthy is that we would lose committee seats,” she told Insider. “But you know what, I got kicked off committees, and now Democrats are going to remove Paul Gosar so I don’t think they really care about committee seats.”
Greene was referencing when House Democrats voted to strip her of her committee assignments back in February over her past support for conspiracy theories and political violence on social media.
Greene reiterated that any Republican who voted for the censure resolution should be removed from the House GOP conference and have their committee seats revoked, while taking aim at Republicans that voted for the infrastructure bill.
“There’s no accountability for Republicans that are helping Joe Biden pass his agenda,” she told Insider.
Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, for his part, said Cheney and Kinzinger shouldn’t be punished.
“This is all stupid, everything that is happening,” Crenshaw told Insider. “What Paul Gosar did was stupid, the censure vote is stupid. All of these conversations are stupid locker room politics, they don’t matter a damn to anybody in this country. It’s very annoying.”