WASHINGTON ― Republicans started the process Wednesday to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The House approved a procedural motion setting up a likely final vote to boot Omar on Thursday.
The move is retaliation for Democrats having removed Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) from their committees in 2021 for threatening behavior toward colleagues.
Republicans have called Omar an antisemite for the way she’s criticized U.S. foreign policy toward Israel.
“We’ve all seen the quotes and things that she’s said over and over again as a member of Congress that would create major problems if she were on the Foreign Affairs Committee,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the No. 2 House Republican, said this week.
Omar told HuffPost that Republicans are targeting her just because she’s a Muslim, though her past statements have caused bipartisan backlash. She apologized in 2019 for having suggested support for Israel among her colleagues that had been prompted by campaign contributions.
Later, Omar drew another round of criticism for suggesting the Israel lobby pushes for “dual loyalty” toward Israel; the House subsequently passed a resolution condemning “the perpetuation of antisemitic stereotypes in the United States and around the world, including the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance.”
That resolution also condemned “anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities,” and the only lawmakers who didn’t vote for it were 23 Republicans.
The text of the resolution up for a final vote this week says that “Omar, by her own words, has disqualified herself from serving on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, a panel that is viewed by nations around the world as speaking for Congress on matters of international importance and national security.”
The resolution recounts Omar’s past controversial statements, the outraged response from Democrats, as well as accusations that Omar trivialized the Sept. 11 attacks, and in 2021 suggested a false equivalency between the U.S., Israel, Hamas and the Taliban. It omits her apology.
Republicans have made little effort to hide the fact that they were retaliating for the removals of Greene and Gosar from committees in 2021. (House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has already removed Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell from the House intelligence committee.)
“This is raw politics,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said Tuesday. “We’re not going to unilaterally disarm.”
Despite the appearance of symmetry, Omar’s efforts to make amends for offensive remarks stand in stark contrast to Greene’s and Gosar’s defiance in the face of bipartisan criticism. In a February 2021 floor speech, she admitted “school shootings are absolutely real” and “9/11 absolutely happened” but did not apologize for having advocated physical violence against Democrats.
McCarthy restored Greene to committees this month, and her first statements from the House Oversight dais lionized a mob rioter shot by Capitol police for trying to break into an inner room of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Republicans advanced the anti-Omar resolution Wednesday despite some grumbling from members of their own party. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) told HuffPost earlier this week Republicans shouldn’t punish Omar just because Democrats punished Greene and Gosar.
“Someone has to be an adult in the room,” Spartz said. Republican leaders mollified Spartz by adding language to the Omar resolution saying she could appeal to the ethics committee, though doing so would not restore her committee role.