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House censures GOP's Paul Gosar following violent video

The vote on censuring Paul Gosar was obviously about his indefensible video, but it was also about overdue accountability for an odious public figure.


Before today, only 23 U.S. House members have ever been censured by their colleagues, and over the last three decades, it's only happened once: New York Democrat Charlie Rangel was censured in 2010 after having been accused of, among other things, misusing his office for fundraising.

Today, the list grew a little longer. NBC News reported:

The House on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., after he posted an animated video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and attacking President Joe Biden.

The final tally was The House voted 223 to 207.

For those who may need a refresher, it was 10 days ago when Gosar thought it'd be a good idea to release a new online video. In the edited anime clip, the Arizonan is depicted as a character who kills Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacks President Joe Biden.

Twitter added a warning label to the Republican's tweet, describing it as "hateful content." The congressman's office acknowledged that it was responsible for the creation of the video, though Gosar's office took it down two days after the clip created a national controversy. The congressman did not, however, issue anything resembling contrition or an apology.

And so, the controversy continued.

There was considerable interest in whether Republicans would vote for today's censure resolution, just as most Democrats voted against Charlie Rangel a decade ago. That's not what happened: The GOP minority, after ignoring the controversy last week, and presenting a nonsensical defense this week, was nearly unanimous in its opposition to the censure resolution.

The exceptions were Wyoming's Liz Cheney and Illinois' Adam Kinzinger, both of whom voted with the Democratic majority. (Republican Rep. David Joyce of Ohio voted "present.")

The practical implications of the censure are rather limited: As we've discussed, these resolutions are about a formal expression of disapproval. The censure doesn't do anything specific, though it adds a permanent scar to Gosar's record.

The fact that the resolution also stripped the far-right lawmaker of his committee assignments, however, is going to have a bigger impact. Gosar's presence on Capitol Hill is poised to become largely meaningless: He'll still be able to vote on legislation on the floor, and he'll presumably still be involved with constituent services, but without committee assignments, the congressman's day-to-day responsibilities as a federal legislator have been dramatically curtailed.

Note, when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stripped then-Rep. Steve King of his committee assignments a couple of years ago, the Iowa Republican was rendered largely irrelevant, and his congressional career evaporated soon after.

But as the dust settles on today's debate and vote, it's worth appreciating the extent to which this fight was about more than Gosar's indefensible video. It was also about overdue accountability for an odious public figure.

When the Arizona Republican publicly associated with white nationalists, nothing happened. When Gosar praised insurrectionist rioters, nothing happened. When he tried to undermine public confidence in our electoral system and told voters that President Joe Biden is a "fraudulent usurper," nothing happened.

But when Gosar released a video in which he was depicted as a character who kills one of his colleagues, something finally happened.