House lawmakers on Tuesday censured Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the sole Palestinian American in Congress, over her remarks and actions in response to the Israel-Hamas war.
The censure resolution, authored by Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Ga., passed 234 to 188, with 22 Democrats voting for it and four Republicans opposing the measure. A censure vote only requires a simple majority to pass.
The resolution censures Tlaib, D-Mich., for “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”
“It is a sad fact, but this type of antisemitic hate is being promoted by a small group of members in this body, chiefly Rep. Tlaib,” McCormick said on the House floor before the vote. “We must hold her accountable.”
The vote comes one month after the deadly Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and amid the devastating Israeli bombardment of the densely populated Gaza Strip.
Republicans have seized on Tlaib’s words and actions criticizing Israel, joining several Democrats in condemning a video she posted on social media showing protesters chanting “from the river to the sea” — a phrase that has been used by Hamas and that Jewish groups consider an antisemitic call for the elimination of Israel. The video also says that President Joe Biden “supported the genocide of the Palestinian people,” and Tlaib herself warns Biden, “We will remember in 2024.”
Tlaib’s positions have divided Democrats, who are wrestling with how to respond to the new conflict in the Middle East. They have condemned the horrific Hamas terrorist attack, which Israel says killed 1,400 people, but many Democrats also have been critical of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, according to health officials there. A growing number of Democrats have called for a humanitarian pause to provide aid to innocent civilians in Gaza, while a smaller group, including Tlaib, have pushed for a cease-fire.
Ahead of Tuesday night’s vote, Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar of California said leadership had encouraged rank-and-file Democrats to vote to table the censure resolution against Tlaib. The House rejected that motion in a 208-213 vote.
But Aguilar also was quick to condemn Tlaib’s video.
“I extremely disagree with the statement, the video,” he said. “I could not disagree more with the term. I think it’s offensive.”
In a lengthy statement before the vote, Tlaib defended her comments and actions, arguing that she is the lone Palestinian voice in Congress and protected by free speech.
“It’s a shame my colleagues are more focused on silencing me than they are on saving lives, as the death toll in Gaza surpasses 10,000. Many of them have shown me that Palestinian lives simply do not matter to them, but I still do not police their rhetoric or actions,” she said.
“Rather than acknowledge the voice and perspective of the only Palestinian American in Congress, my colleagues have resorted to distorting my positions in resolutions filled with obvious lies,” Tlaib continued. “I have repeatedly denounced the horrific targeting and killing of civilians by Hamas and the Israeli government and have mourned the Israeli and Palestinian lives lost.”
Censure is a punitive measure that’s less severe than expulsion. A censured lawmaker is required to stand in the well of the chamber while the House speaker reads the censure resolution aloud.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., was censured this year for “misleading the American public and for conduct unbecoming of an elected Member of the House of Representatives.”