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Goldman takes the slow road on censure resolution

New York Democrat doesn’t seek an immediate floor vote in push to censure GOP conference Chair Elise Stefanik

New York Democratic Rep. Dan Goldman is pictured outside the Capitol in December.
New York Democratic Rep. Dan Goldman is pictured outside the Capitol in December. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Rep. Dan Goldman’s push to censure House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik added a wrinkle to the recent trend of members using the power of their office to generate headlines about their political opponents.

While others recently have filed privileged resolutions that force votes on the House floor on censures, Goldman did not take that path. Instead, his resolution would require Republicans to bring up a vote to censure one of their leaders. That is unlikely to happen.

Still, the measure sparked dozens of headlines that put a spotlight on Stefanik’s comments two weeks ago that referred to pro-Trump rioters who faced criminal charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol building as “hostages.”

The approach allows Goldman to revisit the issue as well. He said he hasn’t decided how long he would wait to introduce a privileged resolution if the GOP doesn’t act. He said he has not had extensive discussions with Republicans on whether they’d be supportive.

“I am hopeful that Republicans, in Biden districts in particular, can grow a spine and stand up to their leadership and once and for all say that kowtowing to Donald Trump’s effort to undermine and subvert our democracy cannot be acceptable from any member of Congress, including Republican leadership,” Goldman said.

Although the New York Democrat said the resolution wasn’t politically motivated, it was filed the same day reports came out from CNN and other outlets that Stefanik, a New York Republican, would appear at a campaign event with Trump in New Hampshire, setting off questions about whether she will join him on the ticket.

“Whatever the reporting was about her being considered for VP, I learned about after we drafted and introduced the resolution,” Goldman said in an interview Thursday.

The measure seeking to censure Stefanik accuses her of supporting pro-Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol, referring to them as “hostages” and spreading conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 presidential election. Stefanik said Jan. 7 on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she has “concerns about the treatment of Jan. 6 hostages.”

Alex DeGrasse, a spokesperson for Stefanik, said the effort by Goldman was politically motivated and called Goldman “corrupt.”

“Dan Goldman and Democrats are desperate because they know Joe Biden is going to lose this November,” DeGrasse said in a statement.

House rules allow certain resolutions, such as censures and expulsions, to be considered privileged. It only takes one member to raise a question of privilege on the floor, which means leaders must schedule a vote on it within two legislative days.

That was what was used to oust Kevin McCarthy from the speakership, as well as to expel former Rep. George Santos, a New York Republican, from office. The same procedural maneuver led to the censures of Democratic Reps. Adam B. Schiff of California, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Jamaal Bowman of New York.

Censure used to be uncommon and considered a grave punishment, but in recent years resolutions have been tossed back and forth between parties with regularity.

Since 2021, four members have been censured, a sanction that results in a member standing in the well and receiving a scolding after a simple majority vote. Many more have been filed and not voted on.

In 2023, during a Republican majority, three members were censured: Schiff for “misleading the American public and for conduct unbecoming of an elected Member of the House of Representatives”; Tlaib for “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel”; and Bowman for pulling a fire alarm as a vote was happening on the floor.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., received the penalty in 2021, during a Democratic majority, for posting a manipulated video on social media showing him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Before that stretch, the last member to be censured was Charles B. Rangel, a New York Democrat, in 2010, for a range of ethics violations. And before that, Gerry E. Studds and Daniel B. Crane were censured in 1983, both for sexual misconduct with a House page.

Nina Heller contributed to this report.

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