Fox is told that rank-and-file Democrats found what Waters said revolting. But that disgust among Democrats further metastasized after Hennepin, Minn., County Judge Peter Cahill– who is overseeing the Derek Chauvin murder trial– criticized Waters from the bench, describing her remarks as “disrespectful to the rule of law.”
Cahill said “a Congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot” when it comes to the case. But he did note he wished “elected officials would stop talking about this case.” And he remarked that Waters may have presented defense counsel for Derek Chauvin “something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was already calling on Democratic leaders to take action to sanction Waters. Fox is told some Democrats are not pleased with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that Waters shouldn’t apologize and didn’t think Waters’ comments would spur violence.
McCarthy now plans to introduce a resolution to censure Waters. Censure is one of the three formal modes of discipline in the House, wedged between reprimand and expulsion.
“Censure” is a severe, formal rebuke by the House. The full House must vote to censure a member. It requires a simple majority vote. The censured member appears in the well of the House with the Speaker presiding, officially chastising the offending member.
The House has only censured 23 members in its history. The last was former Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) in 2010 for a host of transgressions, ranging from tax evasion to misusing official House resources.
A censure resolution is “privileged” in the House of Representatives. That means the House must consider it either right away or within two business days. We believe McCarthy will introduce his resolution mid-week. If the minority party were to draw up a “political” censure, the Democrats may move to “table” the resolution or even move to “refer” it to committee.
It could be argued that an effort to punish a member with something as severe as censure should first be adjudicated by the Ethics Committee. But Fox is told that a lot of Democrats are angry at Waters, are concerned about the optics of potential violence being linked back to her and Democrats generally. Don’t forget how many moderate Democrats were beside themselves following the midterms and the “defund the police” movement.
With such a narrow majority, Democrats can only lose two votes on their side. Fox is told that some Democrats could in fact support what one lawmaker termed a “reasonably worded” censure resolution to rebuke Waters. Plus, voting to punish Waters may well be good politics for some battleground district Democrats.
One knowledgeable Democrat told Fox that some Democratic members are so angry at Waters now that they would relish the opportunity to censure her.
So, McCarthy’s censure resolution may actually have legs. And, in a narrowly divided House, it may come down to “that math.”