The House voted along party lines to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) from her assignment on the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday in the party’s latest escalation of tactics to stifle Democrats and silence dissent.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has seemingly made removing Omar a top priority in recent days after reports emerged over the past weekend that a few Republicans may vote against the resolution and potentially sink the vote. McCarthy was personally whipping up votes this week, contacting lawmakers who voiced their opposition to the idea to convince them to support the move.
The resolution specifically condemns Omar for comments she made years ago criticizing Israel’s violent occupation of Palestine and pro-Israel groups’ grip on U.S. politics — comments that Republicans claim were antisemitic. Many Jewish groups have said that it is not Omar who has perpetuated antisemitism, but rather Republicans, who have openly embraced virulently antisemitic lawmakers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and spread debunked, antisemitic conspiracy theories.
“This debate today, it’s about who gets to be an American. What opinions do we have to have to be counted as Americans?” Omar, a Black Muslim immigrant, said on the House floor before the vote. “There is this idea that you are suspect if you are an immigrant or if you are from certain parts of the world or are a certain skin tone or a Muslim.”
“Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy, or that they see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced?” she said.
Though Republicans have continually cited Omar’s comments in their current crusade, Omar has said that the true reason that Republicans have targeted her is that she is Black and Muslim, and that they are currently playing a cynical game with their political power. Democrats also say that the party is seeking revenge for Democrats’ vote to strip Greene from her committee assignments in 2021, in response to the lawmaker’s dangerous comments spreading QAnon conspiracy theories and harassment of fellow lawmakers.
The Republican who introduced the resolution, far right Rep. Max Miller (Ohio), said that the move was in part to keep Omar from “undermining” relations with Israel — an argument that Omar says is alarming.
“This is a dangerous argument that members must reject. We can’t go down this road,” she tweeted on Thursday. “No member of Congress should be removed from committee because of accusations of undermining a relationship with a foreign country. Members must maintain their independence on policy issues.”
Lending further evidence that Republicans are targeting her due to bigotry, Omar said that she has faced an increase in death threats in recent days, as she does every time that Republicans attack her.
She shared audio of one threat she received, in which the caller said: “I’ll put a bullet in your fucking head, and get the fuck out of my country, you cock sucking bitch. I’ll fucking kill you.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) delivered a fiery speech on the House floor denouncing Republicans’ Islamophobia and hypocrisy in comparing blocking Omar’s assignment to removing Greene from committees.
“There is nothing consistent with the Republican Party’s continued attack except for the racism and incitement of violence against women of color in this body,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “I had a member of the Republican caucus threaten my life and you all and the Republican caucus rewarded him with one of the most prestigious committee assignments in this Congress.”
“Don’t tell me this is about consistency,” she continued. “Don’t tell me that this is about a condemnation of antisemitic remarks when you have a member of the Republican caucus who has talked about ‘Jewish space lasers’ … and also elevated her to some of the highest committee assignments in this body.”
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