House lawmakers voted Wednesday to torpedo a resolution censuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for her harsh criticism of Israel following deadly Hamas attacks last month.
That effort required 23 Republicans, joined by all Democrats, to vote in favor of a procedural motion that blocked the disciplinary resolution from reaching the floor. The final total was 222 to 186.
The vote was a surprise: Tlaib, a staunch liberal who has harshly criticized Israel, has few fans in the Republican Party when it comes to Middle East policy. It’s unclear why several Republicans came to his aid in Wednesday’s vote.
The censure resolution – sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) – had accused Tlaib of “leading an insurrection” for her participation in an anti-war protest last month at the Capitol, organized by Jewish groups, which brought together tens of thousands of people. arrests.
Pro-Israel Democrats, who might have been inclined to censor Tlaib’s comments, had hammered Greene for her inaccurate characterization of a peace protest — albeit a noisy one — and for sensationalizing Tlaib’s role in her orchestra. They were also wary that Greene’s “insurrectionist” language trivialized the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Trump.
Wednesday’s vote came as escalating violence in the Middle East highlighted deep divisions among Democrats over Israel, pitting liberal and pro-Palestinian lawmakers like Tlaib — who has accused Israel of crimes of war in its response to Hamas attacks — against Israel’s loyal allies, who fear that criticism from a close U.S. ally will only strengthen Hamas and incite anti-Semitism.
That schism should take center stage later this week when the House votes on a $14.3 billion Republican aid package for Israel that includes cuts to IRS funding to pay for the program.
Tlaib, the only Palestinian American member of Congress, has long denounced Israel for its human rights record in Palestine. These criticisms have intensified with Israel’s military response to Hamas attacks, which Palestinian authorities say have killed thousands of civilians in Gaza.
Tlaib condemned violence on all sides, while accusing Israel of creating “apartheid” conditions in Gaza and committing genocide against the Palestinians.
Greene’s three pages censorship resolution accused Tlaib of “anti-Semitic activity” and “sympathy with terrorist organizations.” It lists a number of criticisms Tlaib has made of Israel in recent years, the the most recent being a declaration ” she published a day after the Hamas attack on Israel which called for “lifting the blockade, ending the occupation and dismantling the apartheid system which creates suffocating and dehumanizing conditions which can lead to resistance “.
“Failure to recognize the violent reality of siege, occupation and apartheid does not make anyone safer. No person, no child, anywhere should have to suffer or live in fear of violence,” Tlaib added. “We cannot ignore the humanity in each other. As long as our country provides billions of dollars in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue. »
The resolution also accuses Tlaib of “carrying out an insurrection at the United States Capitol,” in reference to the anti-war protest that took place at the Capitol last month in support of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas . The protest, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow, two Jewish advocacy groups, led to a number of arrests.
As part of the protest, Tlaib spoke at a rally on the Capitol lawn, calling for a ceasefire. She did not, however, join protesters inside a Capitol office building, where most of the arrests took place, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Tlaib said the censure resolution is “deeply Islamophobic and attacks peaceful Jewish defenders of the war.”
Greene moved last week to force a vote on the censure resolution, a rarely used procedural maneuver that required leaders — under new Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) — to set a vote within two days legislative.
Censorship is a largely symbolic gesture; there are no other repercussions beyond voting. But it carries the stigma that a lawmaker acted in a way unworthy of Congress — in the judgment of his or her colleagues.
Once rare, censorship has been used with more frequency in recent years as Congress has become more polarized and the tone of attacks from the other side has become more acrimonious.
Two years ago, Democrats criticized Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) for releasing an animated video depicting violence against Democrats. This year, Republicans responded in kind by censuring Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) for his role in the investigation into former President Trump’s ties to Russia.
This new trend was on full display last week, when first-term Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.) moved to force a vote on a resolution censuring Greene shortly after the Georgia Republican did the same for her legislation penalizing Tlaib.
Balint suggested she was forcing a vote on her resolution — which she introduced in July — because Greene had moved forward on her Tlaib resolution, while also going after Johnson.
“The fact that on his first day in office he let Marjorie Taylor Greene present a resolution riddled with lies and falsehoods about my colleague, it will not pass,” Balint told reporters last week. “This woman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, seems like her only goal is to divide one American after another, to stir up more hatred, to stir up more divisiveness and fear-mongering, and we have to have some substance here.”
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