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US Congress censures Rep. Gosar over violent video clip

WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona was censured Wednesday by the House for posting an animated video that depicted him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword. Democrats pointed out that Gosar’s conduct would not be tolerated in any other workplace and for the same reason, it shouldn’t be allowed in Congress as well.

Political division

Gosar had also been removed from his House committee assignments. The voting stood at 223-207. Republican Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois voted in favor. Gosar, who had deleted the tweet days ago following criticism from several quarters, retweeted the video after the vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi read the censure resolution. “These actions demand a response. We cannot have members joking about murdering each other. This is both an endangerment of our elected officials and an insult to the institution,” said Pelosi.

Abuse of power

Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy termed the censure an “abuse of power” by Democrats. Ocasio-Cortez said: “When we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down to violence in this country. And that is where we must draw the line.” Responding to criticism, Gosar said: “I do not espouse violence toward anyone. I never have. It was not my purpose to make anyone upset.”

Strongest punishment

The censure is one of the strongest punishments by the House. Gosar was just the fourth in nearly 40 years to get censured. Gosar is the 24th House member to be censured. Though the Republicans largely projected Gosar’s video as just a cartoon, Democrats took a different view. Following the resolution Gosar was removed from two committees: Natural Resources and the Oversight and Reform panel. Gosar is the 24th House member to be censured. Though it carries no practical effect, except to provide a historic footnote that marks a lawmaker’s career, it is the strongest punishment the House can issue short of expulsion, which requires a two-thirds vote. Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, the former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, was the last member to be censured in 2010, citing financial misconduct.

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