House votes to kick Rep. Ilhan Omar off committee over anti-Semitic remarks
The GOP-led House voted Thursday to boot Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee over her past anti-Semitic comments after a handful of Republicans once reluctant to oust her decided to support the resolution for removal.
The vote to yank Omar (D-Minn.) from the powerful panel after a heated floor debate broke along party lines, with 218 Republicans voting to strip her of the assignment and 211 Democrats backing their colleague. One Republican, David Joyce of Ohio, voted present.
GOPers cited six statements that Omar, 40, made while in office that “under the totality of the circumstances, disqualify her from serving on the Committee of Foreign Affairs,” said Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.).
“All members, both Republicans and Democrats alike who seek to serve on Foreign Affairs, should be held to the highest standard of conduct due to the international sensitivity and national security concerns under the jurisdiction of this committee,” Guest said.
The actual resolution, proposed by Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio), read: “Omar’s comments have brought dishonor to the House of Representatives.”
“Omar clearly cannot be an objective decision-maker on the Foreign Affairs Committee given her biases against Israel and the Jewish people,” it continued.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), said he supported the resolution, telling reporters that Omar’s “worldview of Israel is so diametrically opposed to the committee’s.”
“I don’t mind having differences of opinion, but this goes beyond that.”
The Somali-born Omar, one of two Muslim women in the House, and other Democrats insisted she was being singled out due to her race and religion, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) of the Bronx and Queens calling the vote “an extension” of the “disgusting legacies after 9/11 … the targeting and racism against Muslim Americans throughout the United States of America.”
Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), a Jewish Democrat who has called out progressives for stoking anti-Semitism with attacks on Israel, said he opposed the resolution because “we believe in the human capacity to make amends and that atonement should be rewarded, not punished.”
“This is the very weaponization of anti-Semitism that I as a Jewish person find repulsive, dangerous and shameful,” Phillips added.
“When you push power, power pushes back,” Omar said in her final statement before the vote, adding: “My voice will get louder and stronger, and my leadership will be celebrated around the world.”
The vote to remove Omar followed the move by GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to block Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both of California, from the House Intelligence Committee — as well as the removal of GOP Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia from their committees by Democrats in the last Congress.
“When a resolution was brought up to deal with this last time, she never apologized,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters after the vote. “They changed the resolution to say anti-Semitism is wrong.”
“We’re not removing her from other committees,” McCarthy added. “This is nothing like the last Congress where you move somebody from all committees.”
Miller’s resolution cited a tweet by Omar from February 2019 implying that American lawmakers who support Israel were paid by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — saying it’s “all about the Benjamins” — as well as a statement she made weeks later decrying “the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
The following month, Omar downplayed the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, telling the Council on American-Islamic Relations that the organization was founded because “some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”
In 2021, Omar compared Israel to terrorist organizations like Hamas and the Taliban during a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing and decried America’s Middle Eastern ally as an “apartheid state.”
Omar defended herself Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” by saying she was unfamiliar with “tropes about Jews and money.”
”I certainly did not or was not aware that the word ‘hypnotized’ was a trope. I wasn’t aware of the fact that there are tropes about Jews and money. That has been a very enlightening part of this journey,” she said.
“She said on 9/11 — on 9/11 — as a member of Congress, as an individual sitting on Foreign Affairs, something happened that day,” McCarthy said Thursday. “What does that say to other people around the world? What does that say to somebody else who wants to create another 9/11, America? I’m sorry, it’s not right.
“We were right in our action and she can serve on other committees,” the speaker added. “But it puts America at jeopardy and I’m not going to do that under my watch.”
The vote was a test of McCarthy’s ability to keep his slim majority together after Republicans Victoria Spartz of Indiana, Ken Buck of Colorado and Nancy Mace of South Carolina expressed reluctance to remove Omar. However, the trio got on board with the effort when McCarthy assured them that he was willing to change the process for kicking members off committees in the future.
“What I told him [Buck], and I had this conversation with Victoria too, we want due process. That we would work on process. I don’t know exactly what it’s like. … Just don’t want to pull something out of thin — out of my head,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “I actually want to work with the Democrats on it too, because I think it’s healthy for the institution.”