Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, speaking ahead of the vote, said, “I would just suggest we have better things to do on the floor of the House of Representatives than be the hall monitors for Twitter.”
The resolution will remove Gosar from two committees: Natural Resources and the Oversight and Reform panel, on which Ocasio-Cortez also serves, limiting his ability to shape legislation and deliver for constituents. It states that depictions of violence can foment actual violence and jeopardize the safety of elected officials, citing the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol as an example.
Gosar becomes the 24th House member to be censured. Though it carries no practical effect, except to provide a historic footnote that marks a lawmaker’s career, it is the strongest punishment the House can issue short of expulsion, which requires a two-thirds vote.
Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, the former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, was the last to receive the rebuke in 2010 for financial misconduct.
It marked the second time this year that the House has initiated the removal of a GOP lawmaker from an assigned committee, the first being Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Gosar, a six-term congressman, posted the video over a week ago with a note saying, “Any anime fans out there?” The roughly 90-second video was an altered version of a Japanese anime clip, interspersed with shots of Border Patrol officers and migrants at the southern U.S. border.
During one roughly 10-second section, animated characters whose faces had been replaced with those of Gosar, Greene and Rep. Lauren Boebert, a freshman Republican from western Colorado, were shown fighting other animated characters. Gosar’s character is seen striking another one made to look like Ocasio-Cortez in the neck with a sword. The video also shows him attacking President Joe Biden.
Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York City, whose receipt of repeated death threats has required her to spend thousands on security, said Gosar has not apologized to her. She singled out McCarthy for not condemning Gosar.
“What is so hard about saying this is wrong?” Ocasio-Cortez said on the House floor Wednesday. “This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar. But this is about what we are willing to accept.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, was one of the few Republicans saying he would vote to censure Gosar. “We have to hold Members accountable who incite or glorify violence, who spread and perpetuate dangerous conspiracies. The failure to do so will take us one step closer to this fantasized violence becoming real,” Kinzinger tweeted.
This is not the first brush with controversy for Gosar, who was first elected in 2010’s tea party wave. He has been repeatedly criticized by his own siblings, six of whom appeared in campaign ads supporting his Democratic opponent in 2018.
Earlier this year Gosar looked to form an America First Caucus with other hardline Republican House members that aimed to promote “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” while warning that mass immigration was putting the “unique identity” of the U.S. at risk. He’s made appearances at fringe right-wing events, including a 2018 rally in London for a jailed British activist who repeatedly spread anti-Muslim views and a gathering in Florida last February hosted by Nick Fuentes, an internet personality who has promoted white supremacist beliefs.
He has also portrayed a woman shot by Capitol police during the attack on the Capitol as a martyr, claiming she was “executed.” And he falsely suggested that a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., was instigated by “the left” and backed by billionaire George Soros, a major funder of liberal and pro-democracy causes who has become the focus of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.