WASHINGTON — House Republicans voted Thursday to expel Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, from the Foreign Affairs Committee, the latest skirmish in a long-running partisan battle over committee appropriations.
Chairman Kevin McCarthy had initially faced a handful of Republican defections, but by Thursday he and his team had brought Republican members back in line, with 218 Republicans voting to support the resolution condemning Omar for comments. anti-Semites in the past and removed her from the committee.
One Republican, Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, a senior member of the Ethics Committee, voted present.
All 211 Democrats rallied behind Omar, who delivered an emotional and defiant speech before the vote that left many of his colleagues in tears.
«There’s this idea that you’re a suspect if you’re an immigrant, or if you’re from certain parts of the world or a certain skin tone, or a Muslim. It’s no coincidence that members of the Republican Party accused the first black president, Barack Obama, of being a secret Muslim,» Omar said.
«Well, I’m a Muslim,» she added. «I’m an immigrant and, oddly enough, from Africa. Is anyone surprised that I’m being attacked? Is anyone surprised that I’m somehow considered unworthy to speak out on American foreign policy? Or that I’m seen as a powerful voice What should be silenced?»
Republicans defended her move, arguing that Omar’s anti-Semitic tropes she made several years ago disqualified her from serving in Foreign Relations. In 2019, Omar angered Democrats and Republicans alike, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when he tweeted that the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other Jewish donors were paying politicians to back Israel. , saying: “It’s all about Benjamin’s baby.
She was also criticized by other Democrats after they said she equated «America and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban.»
«How can someone who is not welcomed by one of our most important allies serve as an emissary for American foreign policy on the Foreign Affairs Committee?» said Rep. Max Miller, R-Ohio, a former Trump White House aide who is Jewish and author of Thursday’s resolution. «And given his biased comments against Israel and against the Jewish people, how can he serve as an objective decision-maker on the committee?»
Others argued that Democrats took similar steps two years ago when they voted to oust two Republicans from their committees for racist and violent social media posts, and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two other Republicans from serving. in the select panel on January 6.
Those comments angered one of Omar’s closest allies, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., who had been attacked in a social media post by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and who took the speak Thursday to rail against the Republicans.
«Consistency? There is nothing consistent with the continued attacks by the Republican Party except the racism and incitement to violence against women of color in this body,» Ocasio-Cortez said. «A member of the Republican caucus threatened my life and everyone’s, and the Republican caucus rewarded him with one of the most prestigious committee assignments in this Congress.»
The vote to remove Omar almost didn’t happen. Last week, several Republicans voiced their opposition to the GOP taking action against Omar, threatening to derail the resolution given their new slim majority.
But this week, those defectors began to line up. On Tuesday, Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., shifted her vote to yes after meeting with McCarthy and securing language in Omar’s resolution that would give lawmakers a chance to appeal the removal of the committees.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who was undecided, said he would back the resolution. On Wednesday, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Col., said he would change his vote to yes after speaking with McCarthy, saying the speaker seemed open to a proposed rule change that would make it harder to kick lawmakers out of committees.
Moments before the vote, Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, the only holdout from the GOP, walked out of McCarthy’s office and announced that she, too, would vote in favor. Mace said she got a commitment from McCarthy to develop a better process for removing committee members.
«We have a process today for [censure]. Today we have a process to expel members of Congress,” Mace told reporters. «We don’t have a process for removing your committee members.»
Speaking to reporters after the vote, McCarthy said he had just spoken with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., about appointing members of both parties to a working group that would come up with a proposal explaining why. for which legislators could be removed. committees and the process for doing so. McCarthy said that he would name Mace and Buck.
“Moving forward, every member of Congress has a responsibility for how they behave. And it is our responsibility to let them know what that is,” the speaker said.
«So I’m going to put a group of Democrats that Hakeem selects and a group of Republicans, and we’ll work to clarify the rules and pass something not only for this Congress but for future Congresses as well.»