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McCarthy pushes for censure vote as Waters digs in over her remarks

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) listens during a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol April 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. Leader McCarthy held his weekly news conference to answer questions from members of the press. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images via CNN)

(CNN) — Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will likely try to force a House vote Wednesday to censure Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters following her remarks over the weekend calling for protesters to “get more confrontational” if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted in the killing of George Floyd, House aides familiar with the matter tell CNN.

Democrats, however, will likely move to table such an action. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will need to keep her caucus nearly unified to kill the resolution given the narrow majority in the House, and it’s unclear if any Democrats will break ranks and support it. The vote could also put also moderate Democrats in a tough spot.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN Monday night he didn’t expect any Democrats to back the censure resolution.

Waters, a California Democrat, on Saturday night had called for protesters to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is acquitted. The comments, coming at a time of simmering national tension amid several high-profile killings of Black people at the hands of police officers, were immediately seized on by Republicans who said Waters was encouraging violence. In a subsequent interview, Waters said she was “nonviolent” and was not encouraging violence but instead asking people to confront the US justice system.

McCarthy introduced a resolution Monday to censure Waters for her “dangerous comments,” while accusing Pelosi of “ignoring” Waters’ behavior.

“We’ve heard this type of violent rhetoric from Waters before, and the United States Congress must clearly and without reservation reprimand this behavior before more people get hurt,” he said in a statement Monday.

McCarthy, however, has downplayed former President Donald Trump’s role in the January 6 Capitol riot that left several dead and injured more than 100 law enforcement officers. He avoided taking any action to punish GOP Rep. Mo Brooks for his incendiary rhetoric at a rally earlier that day, even though some members of his own conference had wanted to reprimand Brooks and weighed stripping him from committee slots.

Pelosi told CNN on Monday that Waters does not need to apologize for her comments. When asked if she believed Waters’ comments incited violence, Pelosi told CNN, “No, absolutely not.”

Hoyer also told CNN that he didn’t think Waters meant violence and “she’s never advocated violence,” adding that the congresswoman is “passionate” and “believes in her issues.”

Waters said her reference to “confrontation” was meant in the context of the Civil Rights movement’s nonviolent history.

“The whole Civil Rights movement is confrontation,” she told CNN on Capitol Hill Monday night.

Asked about GOP efforts to censure her, Waters threw her hands in the air and refused to comment.