House GOP Ousts Democrat Omar From Major Committee

Republicans cite her anti-Israel comments, while Democrats see move as 'political revenge'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 2, 2023 11:48 AM CST
House GOP Ousts Democrat Omar From Major Committee
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

House Republicans voted after a raucous debate Thursday to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the chamber's major Foreign Affairs Committee, reports the AP. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was able to solidify Republican support against Omar 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 of hard-right Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green and Paul Gosar.

The 218-211 vote, along party lines, came after a heated debate in which Democrats accused the GOP of targeting Omar—a Somali-born Muslim woman—based on her race and religion. 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 colleague 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, including anti-Israel comments, 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. The resolution proposed by Ohio's Max Miller, a former official in the Trump administration, declared, “Omar’s comments have brought dishonor to the House of Representatives.” Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York said Omar has at times “made mistakes" and used antisemitic tropes that were condemned by House Democrats four years ago. But that's not what Thursday's vote was about, he said. “It's not about accountability, it’s about political revenge."

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Omar is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. She is also the first to wear a hijab in the House chamber after floor rules were changed to allow members to wear head coverings for religious reasons. She quickly generated controversy after entering Congress in 2019 with a pair of tweets that suggested lawmakers who supported Israel were motivated by money. In one, she criticized the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” she wrote, invoking slang about $100 bills.

(More Ilhan Omar stories.)

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