After inaction from Democratic leaders in the House, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) introduced a resolution on Wednesday to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) of her committee assignments for repeatedly waging Islamophobic attacks against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota).
As first reported by The Washington Post, Pressley is hoping that the resolution’s introduction will force leadership to take action on Boebert’s Islamophobia. Democratic leaders have been relatively quiet on the issue, condemning Boebert’s comments but so far not taking public action to pursue a formal punishment for the far right lawmaker. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has indicated that Republicans won’t be penalizing Boebert.
The resolution doesn’t carry a “privileged” status, meaning that there is nothing forcing House leaders to consider the resolution immediately; it’s up to Democratic leaders to decide when, if ever, to take up the resolution. Omar has said that she’s confident that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) will take action this week.
“For a Member of Congress to repeatedly use hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric and Islamophobic tropes towards a Muslim colleague is dangerous,” Pressley said. “It has no place in our society and it diminishes the honor of the institution we serve in.”
“Without meaningful accountability for that Member’s actions, we risk normalizing this behavior and endangering the lives of our Muslim colleagues, Muslim staffers and every Muslim who calls America home,” Pressley went on. “The House must unequivocally condemn this incendiary rhetoric and immediately pass this resolution. How we respond in moments like these will have lasting impacts, and history will remember us for it.”
The measure is cosponsored by 18 Democrats, including progressive “squad” members Representatives Jamaal Bowman (New York), Cori Bush (Missouri), Pramila Jayapal (Washington), Rashida Tlaib (Michigan) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), and others like Representatives Judy Chu (California) and Jimmy Gomez (California).
“We must be assured that no member is above accountability, and Republican leadership has failed to deliver any such accountability for Boebert,” said Bush. “It is time for Democratic leadership to act and pass our resolution to not only protect Rep. Omar, but the livelihoods and lives of Muslim communities around our country.”
It’s unclear if the resolution would pass if brought to a vote. As of last week, at least 40 Democrats have signed statements calling for Boebert to be stripped from committees.
After extremist right wing Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) posted a video depicting an anime version of him killing Ocasio-Cortez, the House took swift action to punish him, voting to censure him and remove him from committee assignments a little more than a week after the video was posted. In that instance, Gosar refused to apologize and faced additional calls to be expelled.
Although Boebert did issue a weak apology to Omar, she has shown little remorse for her comments. Since the apology, the far right lawmaker has doubled down on her hateful rhetoric, even as more videos have emerged showing her making similar Islamophobic comments about Omar.
The original video of Boebert’s hateful comments was released late last month, about 11 days ago as of Wednesday. While recounting a story about being in an elevator with Omar — which Omar later said never happened — Boebert implied that Omar was a terrorist. A video from a separate event shows Boebert calling Omar a terrorist directly, and accusing her of being a terrorist sympathizer.
“This is why so many Muslims across the country have reached out to our office and to other members of Congress. Because they know that, when anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobia is unaddressed, it’s the Muslim community that ends up paying for it,” Omar said on MSNBC on Tuesday.
“I just want to make people understand how dangerous the usage of her words can be, because I am afraid that somebody like the people who have been leaving voicemails [for] my office will feel compelled to come and take out the terrorist,” she continued, referring to death threats she received after Boebert’s comments went public. “And that is not only endangering my life, but that’s endangering other Muslims.”