GOP readies ‘shameful’ vote to oust Omar from House Committee

"The GOP is riddled with white nationalists and antisemites. It is infuriating and absurd that they are trying to distract from the bigoted hatred in their own party by attacking a progressive woman of color."

SOURCECommon Dreams
Image Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and her progressive allies are denouncing the Republican effort to oust her from a key House panel as early as Thursday.

House Republicans on Wednesday advanced a resolution to remove Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). In a party-line 218-209 vote, GOP lawmakers approved a rule that sets the parameters for debate on the chamber floor prior to a final vote.

“It remains unclear when House Republicans will bring the Omar resolution to the floor for debate and a final vote,” The Hill reported. “Democrats still need to formally submit a separate resolution with their roster for the Foreign Affairs Committee.” That is expected to happen by Thursday.

The GOP has sought for years to remove Omar, a principled critic of Israeli apartheid and Washington’s role in perpetuating it, from the HFAC. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has unilateral authority to boot any lawmaker from a select committee, but because the HFAC is a standing committee, removing a member from it requires a full House vote.

On Tuesday night, after Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio) introduced the measure to remove Omar from the HFAC over supposedly “antisemitic” remarks, the progressive lawmaker tweeted that “there is nothing objectively true in this resolution.”

In response to Miller’s argument that “Omar clearly cannot be an objective decision-maker on the Foreign Affairs Committee given her biases against Israel and against the Jewish people”—a contention that wrongfully equates criticism of Israel’s colonization of Palestine with criticism of Jewish people—the Minnesota Democrat said that “if not being objective is a reason to not serve on committees, no one would be on committees.”

In a Wednesday statement, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) called the House GOP’s pending vote against Omar “the latest racist attack by the far-right to silence progressives in Congress who speak up for a human rights-centered foreign policy, including Palestinian human rights.”

“The GOP is riddled with white nationalists and antisemites. It is infuriating and absurd that they are trying to distract from the bigoted hatred in their own party by attacking a progressive woman of color.”

“Anti-Palestinian politicians and organizations” have long tried “to censor the Congresswoman’s consistent calls for accountability for the Israeli government’s apartheid and human rights violations against Palestinians,” said JVP. “Sadly, these Republican attempts to attack Congresswoman Omar have been buoyed in the past by attacks on Palestinian rights advocates within the Democratic party.”

According to Beth Miller, political director of JVP Action: “These attacks are happening because Congresswoman Omar is effective. Because she is a progressive. Because she is a Black Muslim woman. Because her values are universal and include fighting for Palestinians.”

“The GOP is riddled with white nationalists and antisemites,” said Miller. “It is infuriating and absurd that they are trying to distract from the bigoted hatred in their own party by attacking a progressive woman of color. Congresswoman Omar consistently calls for the Israeli government to be held accountable for its crimes—crimes the GOP would rather cover up.”

Meanwhile, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said Monday that the CPC “stands fully behind our deputy chair.”

“Omar is a valued member of the Democratic caucus and of this Congress,” said Jayapal. “Throughout her service in Congress and on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she has brought her essential and unique voice and lived experience to bear: as a refugee, war survivor, and soon, as the first African-born ranking member on the Africa Subcommittee.”

“You cannot remove a member of Congress from a committee simply because you do not agree with their views,” Jayapal continued. “This is both ludicrous and dangerous. In the last Congress, Republican members were moved from committees with a bipartisan vote for endangering the safety of their colleagues. Speaker McCarthy is attempting to take revenge and draw false comparisons.”

Jayapal praised the few Republicans “who have already rejected this idea” and expressed hope that “more will join them to state their opposition so it is not brought to the floor, or vote against it should it be brought to the floor.”

As The Washington Post reported Wednesday:

Republican leaders have worked for weeks to ensure that there were enough votes to pass a resolution removing Omar from the committee through their razor-thin majority margin, which stands at three as Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) remains away from Washington recuperating from a traumatic fall. Opposition to the effort emerged last month as four lawmakers signaled that they wouldn’t support the measure, citing concerns that it would continue a precedent set by former speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

But the inclusion of a provision in the four-page resolution, that Republicans argue provides due process to Omar, seems to have appeased at least one crucial voter, as Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) announced Tuesday that she would now support the measure. Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) have publicly suggested that they would vote against it before the resolution’s text was released Tuesday, while Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has said he remained undecided. Republican leadership aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to outline private whip counts, said they have the votes to pass the measure whenever Democrats formally appoint Omar to her committee.

Jayapal affirmed earlier this week that Democrats “will stand strongly with Rep. Omar: an esteemed and invaluable legislator, a respectful and kind colleague, and a courageous progressive leader.”

On Sunday, Omar argued that House Republicans are trying to oust her from the HFAC because they disapprove of having a Muslim refugee from Somalia on the panel, as Common Dreamsreported.

Omar has been the frequent target of Islamophobic bigotry, including from Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which paid Facebook to host attack ads that endangered the lawmaker’s life. Due to credible death threats, the Minnesota Democrat is often assigned security by the U.S. Capitol Police.

In her Sunday conversation with CNN‘s Dana Bash, Omar acknowledged that she apologized for the wording of her February 2019 tweets tying U.S. lawmakers’ support for Israel to money from lobbyists—at the time, she specifically called out AIPAC, which has given millions of dollars to members of Congress.

The GOP’s campaign to expel her from the HFAC “is politically motivated,” Omar said. “In some cases, it’s motivated by the fact that many of these members don’t believe a Muslim, a refugee, an African should even be in Congress, let alone have the opportunity to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee.”

On Monday, Omar asserted that her work on the HFAC has contributed positively to “advancing human rights, holding government officials accountable for past harms, and advancing a more just and peaceful foreign policy.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) concurred, tweeting Monday that Omar’s work on the panel “matters deeply and Republicans’ cowardly efforts to remove and silence her are a disgrace.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) echoed Pressley, writing on social media: “It’s shameful that Republicans are trying to remove her [from the HFAC] after smearing her for years. We need her voice, values, and expertise on the committee.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), meanwhile, noted that “Omar is once again facing ugly personal and political attacks with incredible courage and dignity.”

“It is outrageous that the House leadership wants to boot her off the Foreign Affairs Committee,” Sanders tweeted. “Fair-minded Republicans must join Democrats in preventing that from happening.”

This article has been updated to include a statement from Jewish Voice for Peace.


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