“Once Rare, Impeachments and Censures Have Become the Norm in Congress”


When the House formally censured Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, in November 2021, it was the first time in more than a decade that the punishment had been handed out on the floor. Less than two years elapsed before the next censure — and more attempts are on the way.

No president had been impeached for 130 years before Bill Clinton faced charges by the Republican-controlled House in 1998. Donald J. Trump was then impeached twice — doubling the number of presidential impeachments. Now, many Republicans are working to impeach President Biden.

Proposals to censure lawmakers and impeach members of the Biden administration are piling up quickly in the House in an illustration of how once-solemn acts are becoming almost routine as the two parties seize on these procedures as part of their political combat. And the trend is only likely to intensify given the enmity between Republicans and Democrats over a new federal indictment brought against Mr. Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and the G.O.P.’s desire to even the score.

The proliferation of censures and cries for impeachment is troubling to some who see it as a threat to the standing of the institution as well as diminishing the weight such punishments are supposed to carry. Censure is the congressional penalty just below expulsion.

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