Nov 1, 2023 - Politics & Policy

House votes not to censure Rashida Tlaib over Israel comments

Rep. Rashida Tlaib. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

The House on Wednesday defeated a resolution censuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for her criticism of Israel and her speech to a protest calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Why it matters: All Democrats and 23 Republicans rejected the measure, which was forced to a vote by right-wing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

Driving the news: A motion brought by House Democratic leadership to table – defeat – the censure measure passed 222-186.

  • The two dozen Republicans who voted against the measure included lawmakers from Michigan and neighboring midwestern states, as well as moderates and members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus.

The backdrop: Pro-Israel lawmakers on both sides of aisle have publicly and privately cast Tlaib's comments about Israel as repugnant.

  • Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, responded to Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israeli civilians with a statement lamenting the "Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day" and criticizing U.S. military assistance to Israel.
  • She also gave a speech to a large protest outside a House office building calling for a ceasefire.
  • More than 300 demonstrators were arrested for going into the building, including three arrests for assaulting a police officer.

The intrigue: After defeating the Tlaib resolution, Democrats pulled a vote on Rep. Becca Balint's (D-Vt.) retaliatory measure censuring Greene over inflammatory remarks dating back to 2018, according to two senior House Democrats.

  • It "was only going to be offered if the Tlaib [resolution] was passed," said one.
  • Like the Tlaib censure, it was poised to fail due to bipartisan opposition. "Freedom of expression, no matter how unpopular, must not be censored or officially sanctioned," Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) said in a statement announcing his intentions to vote against both.

Between the lines: Greene's authorship of the resolution and her reference to the ceasefire protest as an "insurrection" turned off many members who might've otherwise voted to censure Tlaib.

  • Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.), who represents a district President Biden won in 2020, told Axios his objection to the resolution centered around "First Amendment issues," calling Tlaib's comments "inane, false and belligerent," but "that is within her freedoms."
Go deeper