House erupts in disorder after Republicans censure top Democrat Adam Schiff, in rare move
The party-line vote punishes Schiff for comments he made about Trump and Russia.
In a a rare move, the House passed a censure resolution along party lines on Wednesday night against Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. -- punishing one of the chamber's own members and inflaming rhetoric on both sides of the aisle.
The vote was 213-209, with Republicans voting yes, Democrats voting no and six GOP lawmakers voting present.
Schiff, a former intel committee chair, was censured over comments he made years ago during investigations into former President Donald Trump and the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election to aid Trump, special counsel Robert Mueller found.
The censure resolution rebukes Schiff for what it calls his "misleading the American public and for conduct unbecoming of an elected Member of the House of Representatives."
Schiff previously called the criticism "nonsense."
The resolution also directed the House Ethics Committee to investigate Schiff's actions.
A vote to censure a member of Congress does not hold power beyond a public condemnation of the member's behavior. It does not deny privileges in Congress or expel the member.
After the vote on Wednesday, representatives could be heard chanting as Schiff moved toward the well, where he stood as Speaker Kevin McCarthy read the adopted resolution aloud.
The heckling included shouts of "shame! shame!" while McCarthy repeatedly paused until there was quiet, at one point saying he had time to be there all night.
As the speaker read the censure resolution on the floor, the banging of his gavel could barely be heard over Democrats yelling that the move was a "disgrace" and more.
As the vote was called, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said, "It's pathetic you're doing this. Pathetic."
"The House is in disorder," Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., shouted.
Schiff was surrounded by fellow Democrats in the chamber, many of whom high-fived and embraced him as he walked toward the well. Multiple Democrats said "what about Santos?" -- referring to New York Republican Rep. George Santos who is under criminal and ethics investigation and denies wrongdoing.
From the Republican side, one member yelled out "jacka----," referring to his Democratic colleagues.
The House has censured only two other members in the 21st century: former Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.
The vote on Schiff's censure drew impassioned speeches from both sides before the vote.
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., who introduced the resolution, painted the measure as a "clear vote between right and wrong."
"This is not a partisan act. This is not a conservative-versus-liberal vote. This is a clear vote between right and wrong, and I urge you to do the right thing," she said.
Luna said "run[ning] away from this opportunity to hold this man accountable" would "betray the people who trusted us and sent us here [to Congress] to do the right thing."
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who earlier this week brought forward a resolution that would impeach President Joe Biden, said Schiff was a "crook" who "represents the worst of permanent Washington, using his position of trust to lie to the American people."
"If Adam Schiff has a shred of human decency left, he would resign from Congress in disgrace. His tombstone should ... be one word: 'Liar,'" she said.
But Schiff shot back that what he called the "false and defamatory resolution" amounted to "petty political payback" in an effort to "censure or fine Trump's opposition into submission."
"But I will not yield, not one inch," Schiff pledged.
He turned the tables on Republicans, arguing they were the ones who deserved to be censured.
"My colleagues, if there is cause for censure in this House -- and there is -- it should be directed at those in this body who sought to overturn a free and fair election," he said.
"The question, my Republican colleagues, is not why am I the subject of this false resolution for doing my constitutional duty, but why are you not? Why are you not standing beside me, the subject of a similar rebuke for speaking the truth? Why did you not stand up to Donald Trump? ... Will it be said of you that you lacked the courage to stand up to the most immoral, unlawful and unethical president in history, but consoled yourselves by attacking those who did?" he continued.
House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries denounced what he called a "fake, phony and fraudulent" censure resolution, arguing the rebuke was borne out of Republicans' lack of policy vision.
"This is a do-nothing Republican-controlled Congress," he said. "That is why this censure resolution is on the floor today."
Jeffries, who insisted that Schiff has done nothing wrong, suggested that former President Donald Trump, whom he called the "extreme puppet master," directed the censure vote.
"When he says, 'Bend the knee,' extreme MAGA Republicans say, 'How high?'" he said.
Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed Jeffries' rhetoric, calling the proceedings a "puppet show."
"The other side has turned this chamber ... into a puppet show. And you know what? The puppeteer, Donald Trump, is shining a light on the strings. You look miserable. You look miserable," she said, addressing Republicans.
The fiery Wednesday afternoon debate follows a similar censure motion failing last week when 20 Republicans joined Democrats in voting to table the resolution. But most of the defecting Republicans flipped to support Luna's re-introduced resolution on Wednesday after she stripped it of a provision that would have fined Schiff $16 million, a fact that Schiff noted in his floor remarks.
"Try as you might to expel me from Congress or silence me with a $16 million fine, you will not succeed. You might as well make it $160 million," he said Wednesday afternoon. "You will never deter me from doing my duty."
Censure "registers the House's deep disapproval of Member misconduct that, nevertheless, does not meet the threshold for expulsion," according to the House's website.
ABC News' Carly Roman contributed to this report.