House Republicans voted on Thursday to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the chamber’s major Foreign Affairs Committee, citing her anti-Israel comments, in a dramatic escalation of tensions after Democrats last session booted GOP lawmakers.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was able to solidify Republican support against the Somali-born Muslim woman in the new Congress, although some GOP lawmakers had expressed reservations.
Removal of lawmakers from House committees was essentially unprecedented until the Democratic ousters two years ago Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona.
The 218-211 vote, mostly along party lines, came after a heated, voices-raised debate in which Democrats accused the GOP of targeting Omar based on her race.
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Omar defended herself on the House floor, asking if anyone was surprised she was being targeted, “because when you push power, power pushes back.” Democratic colleagues hugged and embraced their colleagues during the vote.
“My voice will get louder and stronger, and my leadership will be celebrated around the world,” Omar said in a closing speech.
Republicans focused on six statements Omar has made 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 resolution proposed by Rep. Max Miller, R-Ohio, a former official in the Trump administration, declared, “Omar’s comments have brought dishonor to the House of Representatives.”
The Minnesota Democrat has a long history of anti-Semitic and racist comments.
Her takes on Jews were so bad that for a brief time, even the House, under Democratic control and led by Nancy Pelosi, considered a resolution to denounce Omar for her open contempt of Israel and Jews generally.
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Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado became the last of the trio to reject the idea of removing Omar from her influential post.
“I think that we should not engage in this tit-for-tat,” Buck said during an interview with Axios. He was referring to Pelosi removing GOP Rep.s Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene from their committee assignments after they mad comments Democrats considered offensive.
Reps. Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Victoria Spartz of Indiana were already campaigning against Omar’s removal.
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Like Buck, Spartz believes that, as she said in a statement last week, “Two wrongs do not make a right.”
Mace’s objection is even more puzzling, if not mind-blowingly bizarre.
In a recent interview with Fox News, she noted, “I am not a fan of Ilhan Omar. She’s an anti-Semite. She’s a bigot. She’s a racist. She’s a socialist. But that doesn’t mean that we cancel people in this country. Republicans don’t stand for cancel culture. And that’s essentially what this is.”
She added that getting rid of Omar “sets a dangerous precedent,” even though Greene and Gosar were already blocked from committees because of their controversial comments.
Mace then asserted that there is “the First Amendment right” to spew anti-Semitism, and that it is “pretty hypocritical” for the GOP to “censor” Omar — although she could still say whatever she wanted, not just from a committee seat — when that cancel culture against Republicans on social media is being revealed on an almost daily basis.
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