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Democrats pull back on their attempt to censure Brian Mast — for now

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House Democrats have withdrawn their push to censure Rep. Brian Mast amid party absences and concerns about free speech, according to two Democratic aides familiar with the situation.

Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) had introduced the measure Monday in response to Republicans’ efforts to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) over her outspoken criticism of Israel. Democrats had been outraged after Mast compared “innocent Palestinian civilians” to “innocent Nazi civilians.”

Jacobs used a fast-track process that allowed the measure to bypass committees and would have forced floor consideration within two days if she hadn’t withdrawn the motion. Aides noted Democrats could still revive the censure as they worked through lawmakers’ concerns.

The House ultimately voted to censure Tlaib late Tuesday evening as nearly two dozen Democrats joined most Republicans to approve the formal rebuke. A Democratic effort to sink the measure earlier in the day garnered some Republican support, but eight Democratic absences doomed the effort.

The Democratic absences this week likely would have hampered efforts to bring up the Mast censure as well. Democratic leaders stressed the importance of attendance in their Wednesday whip meeting, according to attendees.

At the same time, some in the party have signaled they’re growing tired of the House censure wars. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) spoke up in the party’s closed-door caucus meeting Tuesday to raise concerns about the Speech or Debate Clause, which protects lawmakers from lawsuits over legislative speech, and how it related to the censures.

“I’d like to believe that this little experiment in medieval illiberalism is coming to a close,” he said in a brief interview Wednesday.

The Hill earlier reported that Democrats were pulling the Mast censure effort.