Published On: Tue, Nov 7th, 2023
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House to vote again on censuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib over Israel remarks

WASHINGTON — House lawmakers will vote Tuesday night on a resolution to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the sole Palestinian American in Congress, over her controversial remarks and actions in response to the Israel-Hamas war.

The censure resolution, authored by Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Ga., cleared a procedural hurdle on Tuesday afternoon. The House rejected a motion to set aside or “table” McCormick’s resolution, on a 208-213 vote, setting it up for a final vote.

McCormick’s privileged resolution would censure Tlaib, D-Mich., for “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”

“It is a sad fact, but this type of antisemitic hate is being promoted by a small group of members in this body, chiefly Rep. Tlaib,” McCormick said on the floor. “We must hold her accountable.”

On Tuesday night, McCormick said he was “temporarily closing” his district office in Cumming “due to serious threats of violence against my staff.”

“These threats have been reported to Capitol Police and will be investigated fully,” McCormick said in a post on X.

A spokesperson for McCormick and U.S. Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

The House will also hold a procedural vote on a competing resolution to censure Tlaib sponsored by another Georgia Republican, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The votes come one month after the deadly Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and amid the devastating Israeli bombardment of the densely populated Gaza Strip. They also come nearly a week after the House voted to punt another Greene resolution to censure Tlaib over concerns from Democrats and Republicans alike that the language was too incendiary.

Addressing those concerns, Greene said she has made minor changes to her initial resolution to make it more palatable. For example, her resolution no longer describes Tlaib’s participation in a pro-Palestinian protest outside the Capitol as “leading an insurrection.” Instead, Greene’s new resolution states that Tlaib “incited an illegal occupation” at the Capitol.

Republicans have seized on Tlaib’s words and actions criticizing Israel, joining several Democrats in condemning a video she posted on social media showing protesters chanting “from the river to the sea” — a phrase that has been used by Hamas and that Jewish groups consider an antisemitic call for the elimination of Israel. The video also says that President Joe Biden “supported the genocide of the Palestinian people,” and Tlaib herself warns Biden, “We will remember in 2024.”

Tlaib’s positions have divided Democrats, who are wrestling with how to respond to the new conflict in the Middle East. They have condemned the horrific Hamas terror attack that Israel says killed 1,400 people, but many Democrats also have been critical of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza that has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, according to health officials there. A growing number of Democrats have called for a humanitarian pause to provide aid to innocent civilians in Gaza, while a smaller group, including Tlaib, have pushed for a cease-fire.

Ahead of the votes, Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar of California said leadership had encouraged rank-and-file Democrats to vote to table the censure resolutions. But he also was quick to condemn Tlaib’s video, and a handful of Democrats said they will back censuring their colleague.

“I extremely disagree with the statement, the video,” Aguilar said. “I could not disagree more with the term. I think it’s offensive.”

In a lengthy statement, Tlaib defended her comments and actions, arguing that she is the lone Palestinian voice in Congress and protected by free speech.

“It’s a shame my colleagues are more focused on silencing me than they are on saving lives, as the death toll in Gaza surpasses 10,000. Many of them have shown me that Palestinian lives simply do not matter to them, but I still do not police their rhetoric or actions,” she said.

“Rather than acknowledge the voice and perspective of the only Palestinian American in Congress, my colleagues have resorted to distorting my positions in resolutions filled with obvious lies,” Tlaib continued. “I have repeatedly denounced the horrific targeting and killing of civilians by Hamas and the Israeli government and have mourned the Israeli and Palestinian lives lost.”

Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wis., who recently traveled to Israel on a fact-finding mission after the Oct. 7 attack, told reporters he supports both censure resolutions.

“We cannot have sitting members of Congress calling for genocide. And ‘from the river to the sea’ is a call for genocide, for the eradication of the Jewish people. We just can’t do that,” Van Orden said. “Free speech is one thing, but calling actively for genocide of a people when you’re a sitting member of this House cannot stand. No way.”

By Tuesday afternoon, several Democrats — including Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Ritchie Torres of New York and Jared Moskowitz of Florida — said that they will join Republicans in censuring Tlaib.

“I plan on voting for the censure,” Moskowitz said Tuesday. “I just don’t think we should be calling for the removal of a country, one of our allies.”

“Listen, we have an absolute freedom of speech,” he added. “Any member could say whatever they want. … But also members collectively as a body can say we disagree with what you’re saying.”

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