By Moira Warburton and David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Wednesday on a resolution to censure a Republican member for a Twitter post depicting himself killing a prominent progressive and attacking President Joe Biden with swords, a congressional source said.
Prominent Republicans criticized the Democratic move to discipline Representative Paul Gosar for the video, even as some suggested they strip another Republican of his seat on a prominent House committee for his vote this month in favor of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to fix roads and bridges and expand broadband access.
The vote is in response to Gosar posting an anime video https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-gosar/u-s-democrats-move-to-censure-republican-gosar-for-violent-video-idUSKBN2HX1UV this month that showed him killing Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It was the latest instance of escalating violent rhetoric in Congress, 10 months after thousands of Donald Trump supporters launched a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol.
A source familiar with the Wednesday plan said it would also remove Gosar from the Committee on Oversight, where Ocasio-Cortez also serves.
“Not talking,” Gosar told reporters on Tuesday. He said last week he would fight for Trump’s “America First agenda.”
Some Republicans rejected the calls to punish Gosar.
“That’s a dangerous road to go down,” Representative Chip Roy said.
House Democrats stripped firebrand Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-republicans/u-s-house-punishes-republican-congresswoman-over-incendiary-remarks-idUSKBN2A42IF of her committee assignments this year for incendiary remarks that included support for violence against Democrats.
But top House Republican Kevin McCarthy has not taken action to punish his own members. Republicans say Democrats have gone unpunished for inflammatory rhetoric that they blame for anti-racism protests in U.S. cities in 2020. Some said there could be consequences for Democrats if Republicans retake the House majority in 2022.
“It’s unfortunate that Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and the Democrats in the majority have decided to set precedents that will reverberate throughout the fabric of this House for decades to come,” Republican Representative Rodney Davis said.
At the same time, some Republicans called for Representative John Katko to be removed as top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee for backing the infrastructure bill, which was opposed by House Republican leaders and Trump, the former president.
House Republicans have struggled internally since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which prompted 10 lawmakers including Katko and Representative Liz Cheney to vote for Trump’s second impeachment https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-trump-int/u-s-house-impeaches-trump-for-a-second-time-10-republicans-vote-yes-idUSKBN29J092.
Cheney was ousted https://www.reuters.com/world/us/liz-cheney-vote-us-house-republicans-reach-watershed-over-trump-2021-05-12 as House Republican conference chair in May, and Wyoming Republican leaders voted last weekend to no longer recognize her as a party member, according to a report in the Casper Star-Tribune https://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/wyoming-gop-votes-to-no-longer-recognize-rep-cheney-as-a-republican/article_66c3a62d-7207-54c7-b277-183817c0563c.html.
Katko was one of 13 House Republicans who backed the infrastructure legislation, a bipartisan measure that had passed the Senate with support from 19 Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
He appeared undaunted by the criticism.
“I’m focused on securing our border, supporting law enforcement, and stopping Democrats’ reckless spending in the Build Back Better Act. Our conference is united behind these efforts. I intend to continue leading on them,” Katko said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
At a Tuesday party meeting, McCarthy urged members not to seek punishment against Katko and the other 12 House Republicans, according to a person familiar with the discussion.
But conservatives singled Katko out for helping House Democratic leaders pass the bill over opposition from progressives in a 228-206 vote https://www.reuters.com/world/us/bidens-sweeping-infrastructure-social-spending-bills-finally-get-vote-2021-11-05 on Nov. 6.
“If you take leadership responsibility, now you’re no longer just representing your district. You’re also representing your conference,” said Representative David Schweikert.
Roy and Schweikert belong to the hardline House Freedom Caucus. Greene, another Freedom Caucus member, branded the 13 Republicans “traitors” on Twitter.
Some of the 13 have faced death threats over the infrastructure vote.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Moira Warburton; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)
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