WASHINGTON — The House voted Wednesday to censure Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., after he posted an animated video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and attacking President Joe Biden.
The House voted 223-207, with two Republicans voting in favor — Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
The resolution also removes Gosar from the two committees he serves on, Oversight and Reform, and Natural Resources.
“The glorification of the suggestion of the killing of a colleague is completely unacceptable,” Cheney told reporters Wednesday, “And I think that it’s a clear violation of House rules. I think it’s a sad day.”
Following the vote, Gosar had to stand in the well of the House chamber as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., read the resolution. After expulsion, censure is considered the harshest punishment against a member in the House.
“When a member uses his or her national platform to encourage violence, tragically, people listen to those words and they may act upon them,” Pelosi said on the House floor before the vote. “Words spoken by elected officials weigh a ton. People hear them very differently.”
She continued: “These threats specifically targeted a woman, a woman of color, which is, as the resolution states, a global phenomenon meant to silence women, to discourage them for seeking positions of authority and participating in public life. Again, this is about workplace harassment and violence against women.”
Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Oversight Committee, said Wednesday that Gosar had not apologized to her.
“What is so hard, what is so hard about saying this is wrong?” she said. “This is not about me. This is not about Rep. Gosar. This is about what we are willing to accept. If you believe that this behavior should not be accepted, then vote yes. It’s really that simple.”
Democratic members could be seen hugging Ocasio-Cortez on the House floor.
Gosar spoke a few minutes later, denying that his video was intended to be a threat and saying: “I do not espouse violence towards anyone. I never have.” He declined to apologize and then compared himself to Alexander Hamilton.
“If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censured by this House, so be it. It is done,” he said.
Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., shot back, “Mr. Gosar, you are no Alexander Hamilton.”
In a statement after the vote, Gosar said the cartoon was done in a “superhero format with good guys and bad guys.”
“It flies through the air. It moves fast. But it does not incite violence. It does not promote violence,” he said, adding: “If this cartoon ‘incites violence’ and needs to be banned and me ‘punished’ for it, then the Cartoon Network, Disney and all of Hollywood must be shut down and ‘punished’ for all the cartoon and film violence they portray.”
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., the ranking member of the Rules Committee, said the issue should have been dealt with by the Republican conference or the Ethics Committee. He said Democrats have rushed the process and “set an extremely dangerous precedent for the future of this institution.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told CNN on Monday that he discussed the video with Gosar before it was taken down, but that was the only response by GOP leadership.
Cheney said Tuesday that McCarthy’s inaction was “indefensible, morally and ethically, and it’s crazy politically.”
On the floor before the vote, McCarthy criticized Democrats for punishing Gosar.
“It’s an old definition of abuse of power: rules for thee, but not for me. That’s exactly what’s happening here today,” he said. “House Democrats are preparing once again to break another precedent of the United States House of Representatives.”
Gosar shared an edited video on his official social media channels last week in which he and other Republican lawmakers are depicted as heroes from the Japanese anime series “Attack on Titan.” The faces of Ocasio-Cortez and Biden were superimposed on the show’s villains. Twitter later added a warning label to Gosar’s tweet, which was eventually removed. The video was also removed from his Instagram account.
The House has censured about two dozen lawmakers since 1832, most recently Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., in 2010, over ethics violations.