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Rep. Rashida Tlaib faces censure vote, amid Republican infighting

Second attempt in a week features two competing resolutions

Rep. Rashida Tlaib saw a censure resolution against her tabled last week, but now faces new attempts.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib saw a censure resolution against her tabled last week, but now faces new attempts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is once again spending significant floor time on efforts to publicly rebuke one of its own members.

A resolution to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib will get a vote this week, after a motion to table it was rejected Tuesday afternoon. The Michigan Democrat has been outspoken in her support for Palestine since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, drawing ire from some of her colleagues.

The resolution, introduced by Georgia Republican Rep. Rich McCormick, accuses Tlaib of “promoting false narratives” about Hamas’ surprise attack on Oct. 7 and “calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.” A vote is expected Wednesday.

Tlaib is the only Palestinian American member and one of just three Muslims in Congress.

“I can’t believe I have to say this, but Palestinian people are not disposable,” Tlaib said, choking back tears on the House floor. “We are human beings, just like anyone else. … Speaking up to save lives … no matter faith, no matter ethnicity, should not be controversial in this chamber.”

Censure in the House is a kind of formal disapproval that carries no actual penalty. While historically rare, it’s become an increasingly common way for lawmakers to score partisan points. 

And this latest censure push has been the source of intraparty, as well as cross-party, tension. McCormick was one of 23 members of the House GOP who last week voted to table a different resolution to censure Tlaib introduced by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, also of Georgia. 

Greene heckled those fellow Republicans on X, formerly known as Twitter, calling them “feckless” and “pathetic.” She lashed out at colleagues who complained she went too far in accusing Tlaib of “leading an insurrection” at the Capitol complex.

Tlaib spoke on Oct. 18 at a rally calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, after which a group of demonstrators, not including Tlaib, moved from the National Mall and entered the Cannon Building, where they staged a sit-in. More than 300 protestors were arrested for illegally demonstrating, according to Capitol Police. 

While the protest was largely peaceful, Greene and others have compared it to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump mob violently overran the Capitol in an effort to stop certification of the presidential election.

For McCormick, that was a bridge too far. “We’re not against censorship of Tlaib, we just want to make sure it was done the right way, that the right words are used,” McCormick said in a video posted to X on Nov. 2. “When you use things like insurrection, which is basically treason, that can be used against the former president, because it sets a precedent for Republicans that said this behavior is literally insurrection.”

Greene fired back by reintroducing her resolution with slight tweaks, removing the word “insurrection” but preserving her focus on Tlaib’s part in the rally on Oct. 18. The House is scheduled to vote on a motion to table Greene’s resolution Tuesday night, in what she derisively called “a tale of two censure resolutions.”

“I’m upset today because I found out that our own leadership is scheduling votes in such a way to force the very simple, light, little slap on the wrist censure resolution that Rich McCormick has introduced — that one will likely prevail, and mine will be forced to fail,” Greene said in a video posted to X on Tuesday. 

While Greene sniped at members of her own party, Democrats offered some censure resolutions of their own. 

Vermont Democratic Rep. Becca Balint brought up a resolution accusing Greene of using antisemitic and violent rhetoric in the past. That resolution was originally slated for a vote last Wednesday, but Balint pulled it after Greene’s initial censure of Tlaib did not advance.

And on Monday, California Democratic Rep. Sara Jacobs introduced a resolution to censure Florida Republican Brian Mast, whom she said conflated Palestinian civilians to Hamas terrorists. 

This latest batch of admonitions came after embattled New York Republican Rep. George Santos survived a push to expel him, a much more serious punishment that would have seen him booted from the House. 

Meanwhile, government funding is set to expire in just over a week, and none of the 12 spending bills have made it to the president’s desk. 

On Tuesday, the motion to table McCormick’s resolution was shot down, 208-213, meaning his push to censure Tlaib will advance to a vote. At least a few Democrats, including Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, have signaled that they want to censure Tlaib.

Rep. Ritchie Torres of New York wrote on X, “I will vote to condemn all forms of hate — from the far left and from the far right, against Israelis and against Palestinians.” 

“Representative Tlaib invoked the phrase ‘from the River to Sea,’ which is a call for the end of Israel as a Jewish State,” he wrote. Tlaib’s use of the phrase, which references the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, has angered many in Congress.

A small group of Republicans, including Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Ken Buck of Colorado, continue to oppose the censure of Tlaib, claiming it would violate the lawmaker’s free speech rights. 

“I’m ready to censure the next person who does a censure, regardless of party,” said an exasperated Massie, before entering the chamber Tuesday.

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