Democrat moves to force vote on censuring Florida Republican for comments about Palestinians

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Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) moved to force a vote on censuring Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) for comments that Jacobs described as “incredibly dangerous and dehumanizing” toward Palestinians living in Gaza.

Jacobs filed her censure measure as a privileged resolution Monday, which forces the chamber to take action within two legislative days. House leadership can either motion to table the resolution or bring it to the floor for a vote.

Jacobs accused Mast of “conflating innocent Palestinian civilians with Hamas” in impassioned remarks on the House floor when moving to file her privileged resolution. She listed a series of instances where she believes Mast has failed to differentiate Palestinian civilians from the militant group Hamas, which launched its deadly attack on Israel last month.

She said Mast “has repeatedly made inflammatory statements regarding innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza who are in harm’s way through no fault of their own as a result of horrific terrorist attacks conducted by Hamas on October 7, 2023,” she said while introducing her resolution.”

She added that Mast’s “refusal to distinguish innocent Palestinians from Hamas terrorists is false, misleading, dehumanizing, dangerous and unbecoming of a member of Congress.”

Mast is an adamant supporter of Israel and previously wore his Israeli military uniform on Capitol Hill last month. In a House floor speech last week that Jacobs cited in her resolution, he said “there are very few innocent Palestinian citizens.”

“I would encourage the other side to not so lightly throw around the idea of innocent Palestinian civilians, as frequently said,” Mast said. “I don’t think we would so lightly throw around the term ‘innocent Nazi civilians’ during World War II.”

The GOP congressman previously served as a volunteer with the Israel Defense Forces.

Jacobs is just the latest lawmaker to file a privileged resolution to censure a colleague in the House. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) resolution to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) last week ultimately failed on the House floor, but she introduced Monday a new privileged resolution to censure the Michigan Democrat. 

Rep. Rich McCormick (R-Ga.) also filed a competing privileged resolution to censure Tlaib on Monday. Both Georgia Republicans are moving to censure Tlaib over her statements criticizing Israel after Hamas attacked the nation last month. 

Jacobs also warned that Mast’s statements come as Islamaphobic incidents are on the rise in the U.S.

“Rep. Brian Mast’s comments are incredibly dangerous and dehumanizing as we continue to push for humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in harm’s way in Gaza and as Islamophobic hate crimes rise,” she said in a statement.

“The United States stands for the rule of law both here at home and abroad — and these comments denigrate those values and cause real, tangible harm. That’s why I moved to censure Rep. Brian Mast to condemn this rhetoric and ensure this hate, fear, and violence stops here,” she said.

Mast called the move to censure him “idiotic” in comments to reporters Monday. He also defended his comments comparing Palestinian civilians to Nazis on the House floor.

“I would challenge anybody [to] find me a better single word that you could use to describe the Palestinian relationship to Jews than Nazi,” he told reporters. “I would say Nazi is the singular word that you could use to describe how they feel about Jews.”

“I think anybody that says it’s just Hamas is lying. And they know they’re lying,” he added.

The Hill has reached out to Mast’s office for comment.

Mychael Schnell contributed.

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