The House of Representatives voted to censure Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar and strip him of his committee assignments in a mostly party-line vote on Wednesday over an anime video he posted that depicted him fighting Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden.

The vote marks the first time that a member of Congress was censured by the House since 2010; Gosar is the second House Republican to be stripped of committee assignments by Democrats in the current Congress.

The video in question featured the faces of Ocasio-Cortez, Biden, and himself cast over animated characters from the Japanese anime series Attack on Titan. Ocasio-Cortez's and Biden’s faces were edited onto those of the show's villains. Gosar’s character killed Ocasio-Cortez and assaulted Biden.

Democrats said the video constituted a threat of violence against Ocasio-Cortez, who pays out-of-pocket for private security due to frequent death threats, and said Gosar had declined to apologize directly to her.


“We cannot have members joking about murdering each other, as well as threatening the president of the United States,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “This is about workplace harassment and violence against women.”

She referenced the text of the resolution, which said that Gosar’s actions were part of a “global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of power.”

Ocasio-Cortez hailed the censure as an important way to show that inciting violence should not be tolerated.

“As leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country, and that is where we must draw the line, independent of party identity or belief,” she said in a speech.

Defending himself on the House floor, Gosar said he was there to “reject the mischaracterization, accusations from many in this body, that the cartoon from my office is dangerous or threatening. It was not.”

“I do not espouse violence towards anyone. I never have,” Gosar said. “If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censured by this House, so be it."

Unlike the effort to remove firebrand Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committees earlier this year, Democratic leadership had originally planned to remove Gosar from only one committee: Oversight and Reform, which Ocasio-Cortez also sits on. But Democratic Natural Resources Committee chairman Raul Grijalva of Arizona requested that Gosar be removed from that committee, too.

Republicans generally argued that the video, while in poor taste, did not warrant a politicized response that should have instead been evaluated by the House Ethics Committee.

“In the last session week, we had, we reviewed Steve Bannon’s podcast. Today, we’re critiquing Paul Gosar’s anime. Next week, we might be indicting the Wile E. Coyote for an explosive ordnance against the roadrunner,” said Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, referencing the House voting to hold the former Trump adviser in contempt. “Anime is fiction, to the point of the absurd. It’s not really my thing, and it does glorify violence, but often to symbolize conflict, not realistic harm to another person.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy argued that the censure vote against Gosar shows that the House, under Pelosi’s leadership, is broken.

“This Congress will go down in history as the broken Congress,” McCarthy said in a speech on the House floor Wednesday. “House Democrats have nearly every rule and standard in order to silence dissidents and stack the deck for their radical, unpopular agenda.”

The vote on the resolution to censure Gosar and remove him from his committees was 223 in favor, 207 against, and one present. Republican Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois joined with Democrats to vote to censure Gosar. Ohio Republican Rep. David Joyce voted present because the House Ethics Committee will meet to discuss the video.

Three members, all Republicans, did not vote, including Reps. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, Morgan Griffith of Virginia, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, the incoming Freedom Caucus chairman who announced Tuesday he tested positive for COVID-19.

Immediately after the vote, Gosar stood in the well of the House as Pelosi presided and carried out the censure of the congressman. He was surrounded by more than a dozen Republican colleagues, including many members of the House Freedom Caucus, a few of whom removed their masks. Ocasio-Cortez sat in the front of the House alongside Democratic colleagues.

After the swift reprimand, which took less than a minute, Greene spoke out: “What about Eric Swalwell, sleeping with a Chinese spy?” She was referencing the California Democrat being linked to a suspected Chinese operative.

Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, a swing-district Republican who defied his party’s leadership to vote for an infrastructure bill earlier this month, told Axios that he would have voted for a censure resolution alone without removing him from committees.


The last congressman to be censured by the House was former Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat who had violated numerous ethics rules, including a failure to pay taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic, using a rent-controlled apartment as a campaign office, and using his role as a committee chairman to raise money for a center that would bear his name at New York's City College.

Before that, two congressmen were censured in 1983, each for sexual misconduct with a House page.

Gosar marks the 24th member of the House to be censured by the House.

Former Iowa Rep. Steve King was stripped of his committee assignments in 2019 by McCarthy and Republican leadership after he appeared to wonder when "white supremacist" and "white nationalist" became offensive terms but was never formally censured.

Another form of punishment in the House is a formal reprimand: California Rep. Laura Richardson in 2012 was reprimanded for telling congressional staff to work on a political campaign, and Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina was reprimanded in 2009 for yelling "you lie" during President Barack Obama's remarks to a joint session of Congress.

Gosar’s removal from committees without the consent of Republican leadership, just as Greene was removed, adds to Republican resolve to retaliate if and when Republicans win back the House in 2022.

McCarthy has vowed to push for removing Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee over antisemitic remarks.

On the House floor Wednesday, McCarthy brought up both Omar and California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters’s comments urging Black Lives Matter protesters to become “more confrontational” if police officer Derek Chauvin was not found guilty on all charges for the death of George Floyd.

“Rules for thee but not for me,” McCarthy said.

At the time, Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn called for Waters to be censured.

Had Republicans succeeded in a procedural vote before the House passed the measure on Wednesday, they would have proposed an amendment to strike consideration of the censure measure and replace it with a change to the House rules requiring that any resolution to remove a member from his or her committee assignments only come to the House floor with the approval of the leader of the member’s party.


Gosar, first elected to the House in the 2010 Tea Party wave, is known for his unusual, shrugged-over demeanor and has been the subject of several controversies in recent years that likely added to Democrats’ dislike of him.

In 2018, six of Gosar’s siblings appeared in an ad endorsing his opponent, with one sibling saying: "It would be difficult to see my brother as anything but a racist.” Some of his siblings still frequently criticize him publicly.

In April, a draft policy platform for an “America First Caucus” that Gosar was planning to start with Greene asserted the United States is “strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” After backlash, the caucus was never started.

Gosar’s appearances earlier this year with far-right provocateur Nick Fuentes, who is accused of promoting denial of the Holocaust, also sparked widespread outrage.


Gosar’s government account tweeted the video on Sunday, Nov. 7. That prompted outrage from Democrats. In a tweet responding to the video the next day, Ocasio-Cortez said that she didn’t expect him to face any consequences.

“A creepy member I work with who fundraises for Neo-Nazi groups shared a fantasy video of him killing me,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And he'll face no consequences bc @GOPLeader cheers him on. Fun Monday! Well, back to work bc institutions don’t protect woc [women of color].”

Gosar eventually took the video down after McCarthy spoke to him, but he defended the video.


"The video depicts the fight taking place next week on the House floor and symbolizes the battle for the soul of America when Congress takes up Mr. Biden's massive $4 trillion spending bill that includes amnesty for millions of illegal aliens already in our country and was not meant to depict any harm or violence against anyone portrayed in the anime," Gosar said in a statement on Nov. 9. "This video is truly a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy."

That did not dissuade Democrats. By the end of the week, dozens of Democrats had signed on to a resolution to censure Gosar. Discussion of reprimanding him accelerated when the House returned this week, when suggestions to remove Gosar from committees were added.