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Why a Texas Republican is poised to be censured by his GOP allies

GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales voted for a popular and bipartisan bill to prevent gun violence. As a result, the Texas Republican Party is poised to censure him.


When the Texas Republican Party gathers tomorrow for a quarterly meeting, it will have plenty of business to attend to, including a censure vote targeting one of its ostensible allies. NBC News reported:

The Texas Republican Party is set to vote Saturday on a resolution that would censure Rep. Tony Gonzales because of a handful of defections in Congress from his GOP colleagues. Officials on the 64-member State Republican Executive Committee will vote on the censure resolution at its quarterly meeting in Austin, a party spokesperson said. ... News of the coming vote was first reported by the San Antonio Report, a nonprofit local news organization.

Last May, a gunman massacred 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school. About a month later, Congress approved the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which as we’ve discussed, included plenty of worthwhile provisions:

  • The legislation creates resources for red flag grants to every state. Those that choose not to approve red flag laws will get related funds for other crisis prevention programs.
  • It closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” restricting the gun rights of non-spouse dating partners who are convicted of domestic abuse.
  • It makes new investments in mental health services and school-safety measures.
  • It brings new clarity to laws regarding licensed gun dealers, as a way to strengthen the existing background-check system.
  • It expands the background-check system for gun buyers under 21, allowing up to three days to conduct checks, and an extra 10 days if there are signs of concern.
  • It creates new criminal penalties for firearm straw purchasing.

Reformers had plenty of other ambitious ideas in mind — including universal background checks, the restoration of the assault weapons ban, and bans on high-capacity magazines — but this was the compromise package that could pass both chambers. It picked up 15 Republican votes in the Senate, and 14 Republican votes in the House, including Gonzales’ support.

The Texas congressman was soon after re-elected with relative ease, outpacing his margin from two years earlier, despite his vote on the gun legislation.

Tomorrow, he’ll nevertheless face a censure resolution from his own party.

Evidently, the Texas Republican Party isn’t just bothered by the fact that Gonzales voted for a popular and bipartisan bill to prevent gun violence; he’s also facing a rebuke because he agrees with the American mainstream about same-sex couples being allowed to get married.

Gonzales represents Texas’ competitive 23rd congressional district, and common sense might suggest that the state GOP would be eager to celebrate and protect him. As tomorrow’s vote is likely to help prove, that’s just not how the contemporary Republican Party works anymore.