Hageman Surprises Some With Vote To Not Censure Tlaib For ‘Antisemitic Activity’

U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman said she showed her dedication to the First Amendment on Wednesday when she voted against a proposal to censure Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

LW
Leo Wolfson

November 02, 20235 min read

U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman.
U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman said she showed her dedication to the First Amendment on Wednesday when she voted against a proposal to censure Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

“Censuring Rep. Tlaib, or any other member with whom I disagree, would be equal to the tyrants infringing upon Constitutionally protected rights within our own federal agencies,” Hageman told Cowboy State Daily. “Disagreeable speech is not the same as unlawful speech.”

The Republican-led vote to condemn Tlaib was sparked by her recent rhetoric about the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The censure attempt was defeated 222-186 with Hageman and 22 other Republicans voting against it.

Hageman sees herself as a “First Amendment absolutist.”

“I read the words ‘Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,’ and I take them to heart,” Hageman said. “The answer to despicable speech is more and better reasoned speech, not the suppression of anyone’s voice.”  

Although most of the Republicans who voted against the censure were on the more moderate side, there were a few hardline conservatives like Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, with whom Hageman has campaigned with and been involved with on a number of efforts in the past, and Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colorado.

‘Feckless’

A Democratic effort to in turn censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, who had sponsored the Tlaib resolution, was called off in response.

Greene introduced the censure resolution last week against Tlaib for “antisemitic activity” after she voiced concern over America’s continued role in supplying arms to Israel as it engages with Hamas following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 terrorist attack. Greene also accused Tlaib of “leading an insurrection” in the Capitol complex when she participated in a pro-Gaza rally organized by Jewish advocacy groups last month.

Hageman told Cowboy State that as “abhorrent” and antisemitic as she found Tlaib’s comments, she has the right to make them. Hageman said it’s important that Tlaib’s beliefs be exposed, not hidden so that it “drives those insidious ideas underground where they are more difficult to battle against.”

“I don’t agree with her on much of anything — and certainly not on anything this censure was addressing — but the First Amendment would not be necessary if it existed only to protect agreeable speech,” she said. 

Greene called the 23 Republicans who voted against the censure “feckless.”

“This is why Republicans NEVER do anything to stop the communists Democrats or ever hold anyone accountable!! PATHETIC,” she wrote on X.

Hageman said she found Greene’s resolution poorly worded and included a misquote of Tlaib’s comments. She also questioned Tlaib’s event being an “insurrection” and said labeling it such would give ammunition for people who gave the same description to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

“I am very concerned that by including this language, we would actually be giving our opponents the weapons with which to continue to attack President Trump and the Jan. 6 defendants,” Hageman said. “In short, the despicable display that happened in the Cannon House Office Building on Oct. 18 wasn’t an insurrection, but by claiming that it was, the resolution to censure Rep. Tlaib would have created serious consequences on other fronts and implied that what happened on Jan. 6 was also an insurrection.”

Greene specifically criticized Roy’s explanation for why he voted against the censure and brought up how he voted her out of the Freedom Caucus.

Roy told the Hill on Thursday, “to go chase so-called Jewish space lasers if she wants to spend time on that sort of thing,” referring to a past conspiracy theory that Greene promoted.

Tlaib, one of two Muslims in Congress, called Greene’s resolution “unhinged” and said it’s “deeply Islamophobic and attacks peaceful Jewish anti-war advocates.”

What About Hageman?

Many people derided Hageman’s post on X, with some calling her names like “Liz Cheney II” and RINO (Republican in name only).

Basin resident Linda Weeks questioned Hageman how voting for a censure would infringe on Tlaib’s First Amendment rights. 

“You are allowed to express your disapproval right?” she posted.

A censure is an expression of condemnation and holds no kind of legal binding power.

It’s an action the Wyoming Republican Party has taken multiple times in recent years, censuring Cheney and three state legislators. 

In some ways, Hageman’s reason for her vote was similar to the comments made by her former 2022 congressional opponent, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, earlier this spring when Bouchard defended a controversial meme Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie shared.

The meme Provenza shared showed an elderly woman holding a rifle with a scope and the words "Auntie Fa Says protect trans folks against fascists & bigots!" 

The Wyoming Republican Party didn’t agree with Bouchard, with the party’s chairman Frank Eathorne requesting House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, to remove Provenza from her committee assignments, a request the speaker denied.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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LW

Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter