The House voted Tuesday to advance a resolution to censure Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib after a Democratic effort to block the measure failed, setting up an expected vote on final passage of the resolution Wednesday.
Tlaib of Michigan, who is the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress, is again facing Republican-led efforts to censure her over comments critical of Israel and in support of Palestinians amid Israel’s war against Hamas.
The resolution that advanced Tuesday was introduced by Georgia GOP Rep. Rich McCormick. The vote was 208 to 213 with six Republicans joining with Democrats to table the measure and one Democrat voting against the motion to table. On Tuesday evening, the House is also expected to consider a second censure resolution against Tlaib from Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Tlaib has defended herself against the censure attempts, arguing that they are an effort to silence her and saying that her “colleagues have resorted to distorting my positions in resolutions filled with obvious lies.”
Following the vote to advance the censure resolution, Tlaib delivered an emotional speech on the House floor and argued that her criticism of the Israeli government should not be conflated with antisemitism.
“It is important to separate people and governments. No government is beyond criticism. The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent, and it’s been used to silence diverse voices speaking up for human rights across our nation,” she said.
She grew emotional and had trouble speaking after she said, “I can’t believe I have to say this, but Palestinian people are not disposable.”
“We are human beings just like anyone else,” she said after a long pause, during which Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota stood up to comfort her and put her hands on Tlaib’s shoulder as the congresswoman braced herself against the podium.
After the House voted to block a resolution from Greene to censure Tlaib last week, Greene put forward a new version of the resolution that drops a reference to a pro-Palestinian protest at the Capitol as an “insurrection,” which had made some Republicans uncomfortable. But McCormick’s resolution is expected to have more support from Republicans because the language is narrower and more tailored to recent events.
McCormick said on X Tuesday evening that he is temporarily closing his district office in Cumming, Georgia, “due to serious threats of violence” against his staff. It’s not clear from the post what the threats are related to. CNN has reached out to the congressman’s office and US Capitol Police to ask for further information.
House Democratic leaders have been urging their members to vote to table – or block – the resolutions, but a number of Democrats have been critical of Tlaib over her defense of the pro-Palestinian chant “from the river to the sea.”
The Anti-Defamation League describes the chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” as “an antisemitic slogan” and “rallying cry (that) has long been used by anti-Israel voices, including supporters of terrorist organizations such as Hamas.”
Tlaib has defended the phrase, writing on X, “From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate. My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity.”
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said, “Of course I do,” when asked by CNN on Monday if he has concerns over Tlaib’s use of the chant.
Rep. Haley Stevens, a fellow Michigan Democrat, said she strongly disagrees with Tlaib’s use of the phrase, but said she doesn’t like the idea of censure, either.
“I have been really careful, partly because our Michigan delegation is so small, and we work together,” Stevens told CNN. “I don’t want my job to be policing or responding for anyone’s statements.”
Both censure resolutions reference the chant. McCormick’s resolution states that it is “widely recognized as a genocidal call to violence to destroy the state of Israel.”
Tlaib posted a video to X last week that features clips of protestors chanting…