Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) gave an impassioned speech in defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar on Thursday, saying that the GOP-led House’s vote on whether to remove the Minnesota Democrat from one of her committee assignments is “about targeting women of color.”
The House voted Thursday along mostly partisan lines to remove Omar, a Somali American, from the Foreign Affairs Committee after Republicans began the process a day earlier. The GOP claims Omar is antisemitic due to her criticism of the foreign policy relationship between the U.S. and Israel.
“One of the disgusting legacies after 9/11 has been the targeting and racism against Muslim Americans throughout the United States of America, and this is an extension of that legacy,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her speech. “Consistency? There is nothing consistent with the Republican Party’s continued attack [on Omar] except for the racism and incitement of violence against women of color in this body.”
The attempt to kick Omar off the committee is retaliation for Democrats removing far-right Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) from their committees in 2021 over their threatening behavior toward fellow members of Congress, including Ocasio-Cortez. Gosar was reprimanded for sharing an anime-style video depicting him killing the New York Democrat, and Greene has repeatedly harassed Ocasio-Cortez and other women of color like Omar and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.).
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) restored both Gosar and Greene’s committee assignments last month, after Republicans gained control of the chamber.
“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,” Ocasio-Cortez said of Gosar.
“Don’t tell me this is about consistency. Don’t tell me that this about a condemnation of antisemitic remarks when you have a member of the Republican caucus who has talked about Jewish space lasers and a tired amount of tropes, and also elevated her to some of the highest committee assignments in this body,” she continued, talking about Greene’s documented history of antisemitic comments.
The House resolution includes past inflammatory comments made by Omar about the right-wing Israeli government, which has been accused by several human rights groups as committing apartheid. In 2019, Omar apologized for her tweet saying “it’s all about the Benjamins,” clarifying she meant to criticize pro-Israel lobbying groups like AIPAC. The resolution on Thursday did not include Omar’s apology.
The Minnesota Democrat has long been the target of Islamophobic attacks and death threats by Republicans, including Greene who advocated for executing top Democrats like Omar.
“This is about targeting women of color in the United States of America,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Don’t tell me, because I didn’t get a single apology when my life was threatened.”