The House of Representatives on Wednesday will vote on a resolution to censure Republican congressman Paul Gosar for posting an animated video on social media that showed him killing New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and preparing to attack US president Joe Biden.
Lawmakers are also likely to consider an amendment to remove Mr Gosar from the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. He is part of the Oversight Committee along with Ms Ocasio-Cortez.
The House Rules Committee on Tuesday voted 9-4 along party lines to advance the censure motion against the Arizona representative. Republicans Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois have reportedly extended their support for the resolution.
Ten House Democrats, led by the co-chairs of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, announced last Wednesday that they will introduce a House resolution condemning Mr Gosar for tweeting the violent altered video.
The Democrats in a statement said that Mr Gosar’s post “goes beyond the pale” and called it a “clear cut case for censure”.
A censure resolution is the highest form of punishment in the House. Once the resolution is approved by a majority of the House, the censured lawmaker is required to stand in the well of the House as the resolution of censure is read aloud by the House speaker. So far, the House has censured its members on 23 occasions.
In the approximately 90-second-long altered clip from the opening credits of the anime Attack on Titan, animated characters whose faces had been replaced with Mr Gosar and fellow Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado are seen fighting other animated characters.
The face of Ms Ocasio-Cortez is superimposed on a Titan that is killed by Mr Gosar’s character, who also attacks a character with Mr Biden’s face.
The video – flagged by Twitter for violating the platform’s rules about hateful conduct – “was not meant to depict any harm or violence against anyone portrayed in the anime,” he said in a statement on 9 November. “This video is truly a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy.”
Although he took down the video following a backlash, he has not yet apologised.
Earlier this week, he compared those criticising him for the anime video to the terrorists who killed 12 people at the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo. “For this cartoon, some in Congress suggest I should be punished in some fashion,” Mr Gosar said in a statement. “For a cartoon.”
“While the degree of punishment differs, this is the same sentiment expressed against the Charlie Hebdo magazine in France in 2015 that was punished for publishing a cartoon – resulting in a real-life massacre of 12 real live people,” Mr Gosar added.
In the wake of the incident, Ms Ocasio-Cortez said that threatening images like the one Mr Gosar tweeted meant that members like her had to raise more money for security. “It’s not just about me. This is that, if any member of Congress’ life is threatened, they have to fundraise for their own safety. I mean it’s ludicrous,” she said.
She also criticised House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s unwillingness to properly admonish Mr Gosar. "Rep McCarthy is not skittish, he is encouraging of this behaviour,” she told The Independent, adding that he encouraged the behaviour when then-representative Ted Yoho called her a “f***ing b****” last year.
Mr McCarthy told reporters that Mr Gosar hadn’t seen it before it was posted. “It was not his intent to show any harm,” he said.
Democratic Rep Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who had faced death threats, called for Mr Gosar to be punished. “He should be censured and expelled. Glorifying violence against your colleagues should not be ok and it should certainly not be ok in Congress," she said.
Mr Gosar’s siblings – Jennifer, Dave, and Tim Gosar – wrote in The Independent last week that their brother is “ridiculously unfit” to be in congress and that he “needs to be stopped”.
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