WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday censured outspoken conservative Republican Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona for posting an animated video to social media that depicted him striking a liberal foe, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with a sword and attacking President Joe Biden.
After a contentious debate, the House voted almost entirely along party lines, 223-207, to rebuke the six-term congressman and remove him from his two committee assignments, the House Oversight and Natural Resources committees. Two Republicans voted for the censure.
Gosar shared the video earlier this month, an altered anime clip — a style of Japanese animation — that also included interspersed video of Border Patrol officers and migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. A character depicting Gosar struck a woman that looked like Ocasio-Cortez with a sword slash to her neck and also showed him attacking Biden.
Gosar, a dentist before being elected to Congress in 2010, removed the video from social media after Democratic opponents assailed it as unbecoming and beneath the dignity of Congress, but he has refused to apologize.
When first asked about the video’s content, his office said, “Everyone needs to relax.”
On the House floor, Gosar spoke briefly, defending the video.
“Our country is suffering from the plague of illegal immigration,” he said. “There is no threat in the cartoon other than the threat of illegal immigration.”
Ocasio-Cortez, a second-term lawmaker from New York, asked fellow House members, “Does anyone in this chamber think this is acceptable? What is so hard about saying this is wrong?”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assailed Gosar’s actions, saying, “We cannot be threatening another member (of the House) or the president. It’s normalizing violence. It isn’t funny.”
But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Democrats of a double standard with their political attacks on Republicans.
“Rules are for thee, not for me,” he said was the Democratic credo. The current session of Congress, he said, “will go down in history as the broken Congress,” with Democrats aiming to “silence dissidents.”
It is the second time this year that the Democratic majority has disciplined a Republican critic. In the earlier case, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene was stripped of her committee assignments for spreading hateful and violent conspiracy theories.