WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has fulfilled his vow to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The House voted 218 to 211 Thursday along mostly partisan lines for a resolution condemning Omar’s past statements about Israel and disallowing her from serving on the foreign affairs committee.
Omar, one of few Muslims in Congress and a former refugee from Somalia, sharply condemned the decision.
“This debate today, it’s about who gets to be an American. What opinions do we get to have, do we have to have to be counted as Americans,” Omar said on the House floor. “This is what this debate is about ... There is this idea that you are suspect if you are an immigrant. Or if you are from certain parts of the world or a certain skin tone or a Muslim.”
The vote was payback for Democrats removing Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) from committees in 2021 over their threatening social media posts.
Greene and Gosar returned to committees this week. Greene immediately used her oversight committee seat to lament what she called a “murder” by Capitol Police of a rioter trying to breach an inner room of the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) likened the Omar vote to a baseball pitcher deliberately throwing the ball at the batter because the other team’s pitcher had “plunked” his teammates.
“I don’t like to sit here and twist and twist ourselves all up in knots like debating it. It’s like, Omar said some stupid things. Some of our guys have done that stuff before,” Roy told HuffPost on Thursday. “I think managers ought to pick the teams, we ought to just stop playing this stupid shit. But you know, we do, and so my view is, you hit my guy. You come to the plate, we’re gonna pop your guy.”
“I am Muslim. I am an immigrant. And, interestingly, from Africa. Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted?”
Omar has been a frequent target of bigoted rhetoric from conservatives, including from Republican lawmakers who said she belongs to a “Jihad squad” and described her as a suicide bomber.
She noted on Thursday that Republicans have falsely claimed former President Barack Obama was born in Africa and a Muslim.
“Because falsely labeling [the] first and only president of the United States of America, a Muslim, an African immigrant, somehow made him less American,” Omar said. “Well, I am Muslim. I am an immigrant. And, interestingly, from Africa. Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted?”
Omar drew bipartisan blowback in 2019 for comments about Israel in which she suggested U.S. support hinged on campaign contributions from Israel-focused lobbyists pushing “dual loyalty” to the Jewish state. Omar apologized and joined her colleagues in supporting a resolution condemning antisemitism and the dual loyalty trope, but she continued to infuriate Republicans with critical comments about Israel and U.S. foreign policy.
Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that Omar had indeed made mistakes, but also that she had apologized for them.
“Ilhan Omar has apologized,” Jeffries said at a press conference. “This isn’t about accountability. It’s about political revenge.”