WASHINGTON (AP) – The House voted to censor Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar for posting an animated video depicting him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword, an extraordinary rebuke that has highlighted the political tensions testing Washington and the country.

Calling the video a clear threat to the life of a lawmaker, Democrats argued that Gosar’s conduct would not be tolerated in any other workplace – and should not be in Congress.

Wednesday’s vote to censor Gosar and remove him from his position on the House committee was approved by a vote of 223-207, almost entirely according to party lines, with Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of the ‘Illinois being the only Republicans to vote in favor.

Gosar deleted the tweet a few days ago amid criticism, but he retweeted the video on Wednesday evening shortly after the vote.

He showed no emotion as he stood in the House well after the vote, surrounded by a dozen Republicans as President Nancy Pelosi read the censure resolution and announced his sentence. He shook hands, hugged and patted other GOP conference members on the back before leaving the room.

Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the censorship an “abuse of power” by Democrats to distract from domestic issues. He said of censorship that a “new standard will continue to be applied in the future,” a signal of potential ramifications for Democratic members if Republicans regain a majority.

But Democrats said there was nothing political about it.

“These actions call for a response. We can’t have members joking around killing each other, ”Pelosi said. “It is both endangering our elected officials and an insult to the institution. “

Ocasio-Cortez herself said in a passionate speech: “When we incite violence with representations against our colleagues, it turns into violence in this country. And this is where we have to draw the line.

Unrepentant during a tense debate, Gosar rejected what he called the “distortion” that the cartoon was “dangerous or threatening”. It was not.”

“I don’t espouse violence against anyone. I have never. It was not my aim to anger anyone, ”Gosar said.

He compared himself to Alexander Hamilton, the country’s first Treasury secretary, celebrated in recent years in a Broadway musical, whose vote of no confidence in Congress was rejected: “If I am to join Alexander Hamilton, the first person tried to be censored by this House, so fine, it’s done.

The move to censor Gosar, one of the harshest punishments the House can inflict, was only the fourth in nearly 40 years – and just the latest example of the heightened tensions that have rocked Congress since the 2020 election and the violent Capitol uprising that followed. .

Democrats spoke not only of the deadly January 6 insurgency, but also of the escalating violent attacks on both sides, including the 2017 shooting of Republican lawmakers practicing for a congressional baseball game and the shooting. in 2011 from former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords as she met voters at an event outside a Tucson grocery store.

Republicans have widely dismissed Gosar’s video as nothing more than a cartoon, a common form of political expression, and far from the most important issue Congress faces.

Still, threats to lawmakers are higher than ever, the U.S. Capitol Police chief told The Associated Press in an interview earlier this year.

Gosar’s censorship grew out of Democratic frustration. Over the past week, as outrage over the video mounted, House GOP leaders refused to publicly reprimand Gosar, who has a long history of inflammatory remarks. Instead, they largely ignored his actions and urged their members to vote against the resolution censoring him.

Representative Matt Gaetz from Florida said, “I would just suggest that we have better things to do on the floor of the House of Representatives than being the Twitter monitors for Twitter.”

The resolution will remove Gosar from two committees: Natural Resources and the Watch and Reform Group, which Ocasio-Cortez also sits on, limiting his ability to shape legislation and meet the needs of voters. He says depictions of violence can foment real violence and endanger the safety of elected officials, citing the Jan.6 attack on the United States Capitol as an example.

Gosar is the 24th member of the House to be censored. While it has no practical effect other than to provide a historic footnote that marks a lawmaker’s career, it is the most severe punishment the House can impose unless a expulsion, which requires a two-thirds vote.

Democratic Representative Charles Rangel, the former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, was the last to receive the reprimand in 2010 for financial misconduct.

It would also be the second time this year that the House has initiated the removal of a GOP lawmaker from a designated committee, the first being Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Gosar, a six-term congressman, posted the video over a week ago with a note saying, “Are there any anime fans? The approximately 90-second video was an edited version of a Japanese anime clip, interspersed with shots of border patrol agents and migrants on the southern border of the United States.

During a section of about 10 seconds, animated characters whose faces had been replaced by Gosar, Greene, and Representative Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Were shown fighting other animated characters. Another made to resemble Ocasio-Cortez is struck by Gosar’s character in the neck with a sword. The video also shows him attacking President Joe Biden.

Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., whose receipt of repeated death threats has forced her to spend thousands of dollars on security, said Gosar had not apologized to her. She singled out McCarthy for failing to convict Gosar.

“What is so hard to say that is wrong?” Said Ocasio-Cortez. “It’s not about me. It’s not about Representative Gosar. But that’s about what we’re willing to accept.

This is not the first brush of controversy for Gosar, who was first elected in the 2010 tea party wave. He has been criticized several times by his own siblings, six of whom have appeared in campaign ads supporting his Democratic opponent in 2018.

Earlier this year, Gosar sought to form an America First Caucus with other extremist members of the Republican House that aimed to promote “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” while warning that mass immigration endangered “l ‘unique identity’ of the United States. He has made appearances at right-wing fringe events, including a rally in Florida last February hosted by Nick Fuentes, an internet personality who promoted white supremacist beliefs.

He also portrayed a woman shot dead by Capitol Police during the Capitol attack as a martyr, claiming that she had been “executed”. And he falsely suggested that a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia was organized by “the left” and supported by billionaire George Soros, a major backer of liberal causes who has become the center. anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

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Associated Press editors Alan Fram and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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