POLITICS

Stunning rebuke: House votes to censure Tlaib over her Israel-Hamas rhetoric

Nov 7, 2023, 6:45 PM | Updated: 10:44 pm

Rashida Tlaib censure...

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) speaks at a news conference on the introduction of the "Restaurant Workers Bill of Rights" outside the U.S. Capitol Building on September 19, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The House voted late Tuesday to censure Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — the only Palestinian American in Congress — an extraordinary rebuke of her rhetoric about the Israel-Hamas war.

The 234-188 tally came after enough Democrats joined with Republicans to censure Tlaib, a punishment one step below expulsion from the House. The three-term congresswoman has long been a target of criticism for her views on the decades-long conflict in the Middle East.

The debate on the censure resolution on Tuesday afternoon was emotional and intense. Republican Rep. Rich McCormick of Georgia pushed the measure in response to what he called Tlaib’s promotion of antisemitic rhetoric. He said she has “levied unbelievable falsehoods about our greatest ally, Israel, and the attack on October 7.”

More on Rashida Tlaib: House weighs censure efforts against Rashida Tlaib and Marjorie Taylor Greene over their rhetoric

With other Democrats standing by her side, Tlaib defended her stance, saying she “will not be silenced and I will not let you distort my words.” She added that her criticism of the Jewish state has always been directed toward its government and its leadership under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“It is important to separate people and government,” she said. “The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent. And it’s been used to silence diverse voices speaking up for human rights across our nation.”

That criticism reached new heights after the Oct. 7 attack by the terrorist group Hamas left hundreds of Israelis dead and scores injured. Tlaib, who has family in the West Bank, came under heavy reproval after she failed to immediately condemn Hamas after the attack.

All Democrats initially stood by Tlaib and helped defeat the first censure resolution against her last week. But since then, many of her colleagues, including prominent Jewish members, have become more conflicted about her rhetoric about the war, especially because of a slogan she has used frequently that is widely seen as calling for the eradication of Israel.

Ultimately, more than 20 of them joined Republicans on Tuesday night to censure her after an effort to shelve the measure failed earlier in the day.

The latest censure push resulted in a dramatic vote on the House floor amid political tensions over the ongoing, deadly Israel-Hamas war. While the majority of both parties have historically stood firmly on the side of Israel, divisions have emerged in the Democratic Party about the American response.

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., the lone Democrat to vote with Republicans on Tuesday to advance the censure resolution, said he believed it was important to debate the slogan “from the river to the sea.”

“It is nothing else but the call for the destruction of Israel and murder of Jews,” the Jewish Democrat said. “I will always defend the right to free speech. Tlaib has the right to say whatever she wants.”

He added, “But it cannot go unanswered.”

While the censure of a lawmaker carries no practical effect, it amounts to severe reproach from colleagues, as lawmakers who are censured are usually asked to stand in the well of the House as the censure resolution against them is read aloud. But the resolution against Tlaib did not call for the public admonishment.

With the vote, Tlaib will become the second Muslim-American woman in Congress to be formally admonished this year for her criticism of the Jewish state. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., was removed in February from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for similar comments she made about Israel.

Some on the left have criticized President Joe Biden’s stance and urged him to put conditions on U.S. support for Israel as its aggressive military campaign drives the Palestinian death toll higher.

While the vote against Tlaib will take place against the extraordinary backdrop of the war, the push to censure her is part of a growing pattern in the House.

Censure had long been viewed as a punishment of last resort, just one step below expulsion and to be triggered only for the most egregious wrongdoing. But censure resolutions are quickly becoming routine in the chamber, often wielded in strikingly partisan ways.

More from The Associated Press: War in the Middle East upends the dynamics of 2024 House Democratic primaries

Many Democrats and some Republicans who opposed censuring Tlaib cited free speech and warned of the precedent it would set.

“This resolution not only degrades our Constitution, but it cheapens the meaning of discipline in this body for people who actually commit wrongful actions like bribery, fraud, violent assault and so on,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who defended Tlaib against the resolution on the floor late Tuesday.

A second resolution by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., to censure Tlaib had also been scheduled for a procedural vote late Tuesday night. But that measure was put on hold after the censure resolution from McCormick advanced to a final vote.

Tlaib is now the 26th person to ever be censured by the chamber, and the second just this year. In June, Republicans voted to censure Democrat Adam Schiff of California for comments he made several years ago about investigations into then-President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

When the House was under Democratic control, Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona was censured in 2021 for tweeting an animated video that depicted him striking Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York with a sword. And Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York was censured in 2010 over serious financial and campaign misconduct.

Politics

Associated Press

UN appeals for $674 million as gang violence in Haiti escalates with killings and sexual violence

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Indiscriminate violence in Haiti is escalating — especially in the capital and surrounding region — with armed gangs carrying out killings and acts of sexual violence, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the conflict-wracked Caribbean nation said Wednesday. Ulrika Richardson told U.N. reporters in a virtual press conference from the Haitian […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Legislation allowing recreational marijuana sales in Virginia heads to GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers passed legislation Wednesday that if approved by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin would allow recreational retail sales of marijuana to begin next year. Under the bills, the state would start taking applications on Sept. 1 for cultivating, testing, processing and selling the drug in preparation for the market to open […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Owners of St. Louis nursing home that closed abruptly face federal fine of more than $55,000

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Federal regulators have issued a $55,000 fine after St. Louis’ largest nursing home closed without warning, although experts said the amount collected will likely be smaller. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the fine in a letter to the owners of Northview Village, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. […]

5 hours ago

FILE - The Louisiana state Capitol stands on April 4, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La. Under a new era of ...

Associated Press

Bill allowing permitless concealed carry in Louisiana heads to the governor’s desk for signature

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A bill allowing Louisiana residents, 18 and older, to carry a concealed handgun without a permit received final approval from lawmakers Wednesday. After years of GOP-led efforts for permitless concealed carry, the bill is poised to become law with Gov. Jeff Landry signaling that he plans to sign the legislation. […]

6 hours ago

Mike Johnson...

Associated Press

Congressional leaders reach deal to prevent a government shutdown; Ukraine aid stalls

Congressional leaders reached a tentative agreement Wednesday to prevent a government shutdown for now.

6 hours ago

Image: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a Get Out The Vote...

Associated Press

Supreme Court agrees to decide if Trump can be prosecuted for election interference

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the former president can be prosecuted on charges he interfered with the 2020 election.

6 hours ago

Stunning rebuke: House votes to censure Tlaib over her Israel-Hamas rhetoric