Rep. Rashida Tlaib was censured by the House of Representatives. What does censured mean?

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The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the only Palestinian-American in Congress, for her remarks on the Israel-Hamas war.

Tlaib has called for a ceasefire and issued public support of Palestinians. The motion to censure her focused on her statements and accused her of “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”

“I can't believe I have to say this but Palestinian people are not disposable. We are human beings,” Tlaib said Tuesday afternoon.

The vote to censure her passed with a majority at 234-188, four present, with a handful of Democrats voting with most of the Republicans to pass the measure.

A censure is considered a severe public rebuke of a legislator brought by other members of Congress, a form of punishment second only to expulsion.

Here is what to know about passing a censure on a U.S. Representative.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., speaks during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, Oct. 18, 2023, near the Capitol in Washington. On Monday, Nov. 6, Tlaib responded to criticisms from fellow Democrats regarding a video she posted Friday, Nov. 3, that included a clip of demonstrators chanting “from the river to the sea.” Tlaib said in her response that her “colleagues” are trying to silence her and are “distorting her words.”

Censure passed: House censures Rashida Tlaib as she defends comments over Israel: 'Palestinian people are not disposable'

What does 'censure passed' mean?

This image from House Television video shows the vote total Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, as the House votes to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., for her rhetoric about the Israel-Hamas war. (House Television via AP)
This image from House Television video shows the vote total Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, as the House votes to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., for her rhetoric about the Israel-Hamas war. (House Television via AP)

The U.S. Constitution allows for Congress to "punish it's members for disorderly behavior." Censure is a formal disapproval intended to discipline members of the house.

The censure is written in the form of a resolution that the house votes on. To pass a censure means that a majority of the members support the criticism included in the resolution.

Resolution to Censure Representative Rashida Tlaib by Kinsey Crowley on Scribd

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What happens when a person is censured?

Once the House comes to a majority vote in favor of the resolution, the censured person must stand in the well of the House as the resolution is read aloud, "as a form of public rebuke," according to the U.S. House of Representatives website.

Examples of censured senators and representatives

According to the House website, 25 representatives have been censured before Tlaib. The most recent censures are:

  • Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), censured on June 21, 2023 for “misleading the American public and for conduct unbecoming of an elected Member of the House of Representatives.”

  • Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), censured on Nov. 17, 2021 for having “posted a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joseph Biden.”

  • Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), censured on Dec. 2, 2010, the first public rebuke in nearly three decades, for an ethics scandal.

Only nine senators in history have been censured. The most recent was more than 30 years ago:

  • David F. Durenberger (R-Minn.), denounced on July 25, 1990 for "unethical conduct in personal business dealings, Senate reimbursements, and using campaign contributions for personal use."

What other methods are used to discipline house members?

Members can also be expelled or reprimanded.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, censure is the second-most severe form of punishment. The most severe is expulsion, which requires a two-thirds vote. Reprimand is less severe than censure.

Contributing: Ken Tran

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The House voted to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib. What does that mean?