WASHINGTON — The House will vote Tuesday on two GOP resolutions seeking to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, for her controversial remarks and actions in response to the war between Israel and Hamas.
The votes come exactly a month after Hamas’ deadly terrorist attack on Israel and amid devastating Israeli bombardments of the densely populated Gaza Strip. They also come nearly a week after the House voted in favor of another resolution to censure Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, authored by far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Democrat, following concerns from Democrats and Republicans that the language was too inflammatory.
Addressing those concerns, Greene said she made minor changes to her original resolution to make it more palatable. For example, its resolution no longer describes Tlaib’s participation in a pro-Palestinian protest outside the Capitol as “leading insurrection.” Instead, Greene’s new resolution states that Tlaib “incited an unlawful occupation” of 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 which Jewish groups consider anti-Semitic. 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 this in 2024.”
Tlaib’s positions have divided Democrats, who are grappling with how to respond to the new conflict in the Middle East. They condemned the horrific Hamas terror attack that Israel says killed 1,400 people, but many Democrats also criticized Israel’s military campaign in Gaza that killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, according to health officials. 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, has pushed for a ceasefire.
Before the votes, California Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar of Calif. said leaders were encouraging rank-and-file Democrats to vote to table the censure resolutions. But he was quick to condemn Tlaib’s video.
“I extremely disagree with the statement and the video,” Aguilar said. “I couldn’t disagree more with that term. I think it’s offensive.”
In a lengthy statement, Tlaib defended her comments and actions, saying she was the only Palestinian voice in Congress and was protected by free speech.
“It’s a shame that my colleagues are more focused on silencing me than saving lives when the death toll in Gaza exceeds 10,000. Many of them have shown me that Palestinian lives don’t matter. just not for them, but I still don’t control their rhetoric or their actions,” she said.
“Rather than recognizing the voice and perspective of the only Palestinian American in Congress, my colleagues have resorted to misrepresenting my positions in resolutions filled with blatant lies,” Tlaib continued. “I have repeatedly denounced the horrific attacks and killings of civilians by Hamas and the Israeli government and mourned the Israeli and Palestinian lives lost. »
The House will make its first decision on the new censure resolutions Tuesday afternoon. Lawmakers will decide whether to file a more moderate resolution, authored by Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Ga., that would blame Tlaib for “promoting false narratives regarding the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023 and for calling for the destruction of the State of Israel.
If the motion to table fails, the resolution will be voted on Tuesday evening.
At that time, the House will also vote on whether to table Greene’s revised resolution censuring Tlaib for what the Georgia congresswoman calls “anti-Semitic activities and sympathy for terrorist organizations.”
Rep. Derrick Van Orden, Republican of Wisconsin, who recently visited Israel on a fact-finding mission after the October 7 attack, told reporters he supported 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 actively calling for the genocide of a people while you are a member of this House cannot stand. Certainly not.”