Democrats say that the House of Representatives is becoming an increasingly toxic workplace where violent rhetoric from their GOP colleagues is tolerated.
Last week, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) was censured and removed from House committees after he shared an animated video on social media that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and attacking President Joe Biden. Only two Republicans voted in favor of the censure, demonstrating the GOP’s unwillingness to take action when one of their party members crosses a line.
“What is so hard about saying this is wrong? This is not about me, this is not about Representative Gosar, but this is about what we are willing to accept,” Ocasio-Cortez said regarding the censure vote.
The problem extends far beyond the fringe elements of the party. Republican leadership, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), have repeatedly minimized Gosar’s video — and in an absurd attempt to deflect blame, he compared Gosar’s action to that of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), who publicly supported last year’s uprisings for racial justice.
Even though Gosar never apologized for the video, some of his Republican colleagues claimed that he did, and that therefore, he didn’t deserve censure.
Shortly after Gosar was censured and removed from his committee assignments, he doubled down, sharing the threatening video on social media for a second time.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) claimed last week that punishing Gosar for alluding to killing a colleague on social media was “chilling debate” in the chamber.
This week, Roy suggested that Democrats need to move on from the January 6 Capitol attack, when a mob of Trump loyalists violently stormed the U.S. Capitol building, some chanting in favor of hanging lawmakers that wanted to certify the 2020 election results.
“People here need to get thicker skin,” Roy said, according to reporting from CNN. “At some point here, you gotta let some things roll.”
Lawmakers need to stop “making everything personal on the floor of the House,” Roy added.
“I’ve tried to live that in politics,” Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois) said in response. “This, you can’t help but take personally.”
Because of Republicans’ violent rhetoric and their constant downplaying of the Capitol attack, Bustos said that she no longer wants to serve in office.
“All of this has contributed to the fact that I’m not running again,” she said. “I want to love what I do. I want to love who I work with. I want to respect the people I work with and that has been compromised in ways that I hope can be repaired at some point, but right now I do not feel like I can repair.”
Roy’s lack of concern over inappropriate behavior from his colleagues is nothing new. In a video that was leaked in July, Roy indicated that sowing discord within the House was a GOP strategy to win the 2022 midterms.
“Honestly, right now, for the next 18 months, our job is to do everything we can to slow all of that down to get to December of 2022,” Roy said about his party’s obstruction of Democratic legislation. “18 more months of chaos and the inability to get stuff done. That’s what we want.”