WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday will vote on two GOP resolutions to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the sole Palestinian American in Congress, over her controversial remarks and actions in response to the Israel-Hamas war.
The votes come exactly one month after the deadly Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and amid the devastating Israeli bombardment of the densely populated Gaza Strip. They also come almost a week after the House voted to punt another resolution to censure Tlaib, D-Mich., authored by far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., over concerns from Democrats and Republicans alike that the language was too incendiary.
Addressing those concerns, Greene said she has made minor changes to her initial resolution to make it more palatable. For example, her resolution no longer describes Tlaib’s participation in a pro-Palestinian protest outside the Capitol as “leading an insurrection.” Instead, Greene’s new resolution states that Tlaib “incited an illegal occupation” at the Capitol.
Republicans have seized on Tlaib’s words and actions criticizing Israel, joining several Democrats in condemning a video she posted on social media showing protesters chanting “from the river to the sea” — a phrase that has been used by Hamas and that Jewish groups consider an antisemitic call for the elimination of Israel. The video also says that President Joe Biden “supported the genocide of the Palestinian people,” and Tlaib herself warns Biden, “We will remember in 2024.”
Tlaib’s positions have divided Democrats, who are wrestling with how to respond to the new conflict in the Middle East. They have condemned the horrific Hamas terror attack that Israel says killed 1,400 people, but many Democrats also have been critical of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza that has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, according to health officials there. A growing number of Democrats have called for a humanitarian pause to provide aid to innocent civilians in Gaza, while a smaller group, including Tlaib, have pushed for a cease-fire.
Ahead of the votes, Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar of California said leadership is encouraging rank-and-file Democrats to vote to table the censure resolutions. But he also was quick to condemn Tlaib’s video.
“I extremely disagree with the statement, the video,” Aguilar said. “I could not disagree more with the term. I think it’s offensive.”
In a lengthy statement, Tlaib defended her comments and actions, arguing that she is the lone Palestinian voice in Congress and protected by free speech.
“It’s a shame my colleagues are more focused on silencing me than they are on saving lives, as the death toll in Gaza surpasses 10,000. Many of them have shown me that Palestinian lives simply do not matter to them, but I still do not police their rhetoric or actions,” she said.
“Rather than acknowledge the voice and perspective of the only Palestinian American in Congress, my colleagues have resorted to distorting my positions in resolutions filled with obvious lies,” Tlaib continued. “I have repeatedly denounced the horrific targeting and killing of civilians by Hamas and the Israeli government and have mourned the Israeli and Palestinian lives lost.”
The House will take its first action on the new censure resolutions Tuesday afternoon. Lawmakers will decide whether to table a more moderate resolution, authored by Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Ga., that would censure Tlaib for “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”
If the motion to table fails, the resolution will get a vote on Wednesday.
Later Tuesday night, the House will also vote on whether to table Greene’s revised resolution censuring Tlaib for what the Georgia congresswoman calls “antisemitic activity and sympathizing with terrorist organizations.”
Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wis., who recently traveled to Israel on a fact-finding mission after the Oct. 7 attack, told reporters he supports both censure resolutions.
“We cannot have sitting members of Congress calling for genocide. And ‘from the river to the sea’ is a call for genocide, for the eradication of the Jewish people. We just can’t do that,” Van Orden said. “Free speech is one thing, but calling actively for genocide of a people when you’re a sitting member of this House cannot stand. No way.”
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