Democrats advance measure to punish Republican lawmaker for tweeting violent anime video

House Democrats advanced a measure on Tuesday to censure Rep. Paul Gosar and strip him of his committee assignments in response to an animated video he posted that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword.

Democrats justified the move as necessary for setting a standard of behavior for members of Congress who have in recent months received an elevated number of threats to their safety and in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that left lawmakers fleeing in fear for their lives.

“Is there no decorum around here anymore?” House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, asked, opening a hearing on the Gosar measure. “Is there no decency? Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has to pay for her own security, and the threats that she gets come as a result of behavior like we have seen with Mr. Gosar.”

Republicans warned Democrats they are setting a dangerous precedent of taking punitive action against members in the minority. Democrats in February stripped Republican freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene over incendiary comments and Facebook posts, some appearing to endorse violence against Democrats, prior to her election to Congress.

“This is a dark and dangerous road the majority is going down,” House Rules ranking member Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, said, pointing out the majority will eventually change and the GOP will be in charge and would be far more motivated to remove Democrats off committees.

Democrats have made threatening statements, Republicans pointed out, and those statements have never been punished or investigated by the House.

The House will vote on Gosar’s fate on the floor Wednesday, and Democrats, who control the majority, are expected to pass it.

The move will take the Arizona Republican off his two committees, including the House Oversight and Reform panel, on which Ocasio-Cortez also serves. Gosar will lose his post on the Natural Resources Committee.

“Congressman Gosar and congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez serve on the Oversight Committee together,” said Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat. “And the thought of having to look across the dais, and work so closely with somebody who depicted your death, is unconscionable to me.”

Democrats made the move after calling on Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to take action. The California Republican called Gosar after Gosar posted the video, which features an edited version of an Attack on Titan anime intro sequence, on Nov. 8. Gosar took the video down. Gosar issued a statement explaining he did not intend any violence against anyone and that the video was meant to symbolize the partisan battle over the Democrats’ $1.75 trillion social welfare spending bill.

McCarthy has made no move to otherwise punish Gosar, such as removing him from committee posts.

Democrats also criticized Gosar for refusing to apologize for posting the video.

“We cannot sit back and accept actions like this as if they’re the new normal and that’s why we’re considering this measure today, which takes steps that I think are totally appropriate, and then include censure,” McGovern said, adding McCarthy’s phone call to Gosar “is not going to cut it when threats against members are on the rise.”

McGovern argued Gosar’s video was “about threatening another member’s life,” adding, “This is so beyond the pale.”

Gosar’s video also depicted the lawmaker killing President Joe Biden, who, like Ocasio-Cortez in the sequence, was shown as being one of the anime’s man-eating monsters, with a sword.

Republicans said the matter should have been referred to the House Ethics Committee rather than rushed on to the floor in a manner that does not allow any investigation or time for lawmakers to deliberate Gosar’s fate.

Rep. Michelle Fischbach, a Minnesota Republican and member of the Rules Committee, pressed the Democrats on their response to “disturbing” statements made by members of their own party, including House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, of California, who encouraged people to “get more confrontational” on the streets of Minneapolis if former police officer Derek Chauvin was found not guilty in the murder trial of George Floyd.

Cole called Gosar’s video “provocative” but said Republicans have been frustrated by inaction by Democrats against lawmakers in their own party who have made provocative statements.

“I can give you a list as long as my arm of such members, none of whom have been disciplined by the majority that’s deeply frustrating,” Cole said.

But Democrats said the Gosar video is far more serious because it depicts Gosar violently slaying Ocasio-Cortez.

“We are talking about a colleague of ours, producing a video, making a video in his office, depicting him killing another member of this body,” McGovern said. “If that’s OK, then we just have a different sense of values and decorum and what is appropriate — in order to maintain a high standard for this institution.”

McCarthy opposes the move to censure Gosar and strip him of his committee assignments.

“Lame-Duck Speaker Pelosi is burning down this institution on her way out the door and these reckless decisions by Democrats will come back to haunt them,” a top GOP aide told the Washington Examiner.

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