House rejects effort to censure Rashida Tlaib over the Palestinian-American’s rhetoric about Israel

This combo image shows Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Feb. 18, 2022, left, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., May 18, 2023, right. The House is expected to consider resolutions that would censure Tlaib and Greene in a partisan tit-for-tat over inflammatory rhetoric. (AP Photo/File)

WASHINGTON — The House late Wednesday rejected an effort to censure Democratic Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, scrapping a Republican attempt to condemn the only Palestinian-American in Congress over her recent rhetoric around the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

A measure to move forward with a censure resolution of Tlaib, a punishment one step below expulsion from the House, was dismissed with broad bipartisan support as both parties raised concerns about violating First Amendment rights.

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A Democratic effort to in turn censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who had sponsored the Tlaib resolution, was called off in response.

The scheduled votes were among the House’s first acts of business after a nearly monthlong gridlock caused by the removal of Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as speaker.

The agenda of retribution reflects the growing divisiveness of the House, where severe forms of punishment that had long been viewed as an option of last resort, to be triggered only for the most egregious wrongdoing, are quickly becoming routine, often wielded in strikingly partisan ways. While the censure itself carries no practical effect, it leaves a historic footnote that marks a lawmaker’s career.

Greene introduced a censure resolution last week against Tlaib, one of two Muslims in Congress. The resolution accuses Tlaib of “antisemitic activity” after she voiced concern over America’s continued role in supplying arms to Israel as it engages in a bloody battle with Hamas following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 surprise attack.

Greene also falsely accused Tlaib of “leading an insurrection” in the Capitol complex when she participated in a pro-Gaza rally organized by Jewish advocacy groups last month.

Tlaib called Greene’s resolution “unhinged” and said it’s “deeply Islamophobic and attacks peaceful Jewish anti-war advocates.”

In response to Greene’s resolution, House Democrats, led by Rep. Becca Balint of Vermont, introduced a resolution censuring Greene for what they called her record of “racist rhetoric and conspiracy theories.” Balint said Greene’s resolution to censure Tlaib “is an overt Islamophobic attack on the only Palestinian-American member of Congress.”

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