Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) condemned House Republicans’ plan to potentially vote to remove her from the Foreign Affairs Committee, saying Wednesday the move has “only been reserved for the most egregious wrongdoings.”
Omar’s comments came during a press conference, just after Republicans that morning had gone through several examples of Omar’s past controversial comments as they mulled voting to take her off the committee, Axios reported.
The outlet noted moderate Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), who had been on the fence about the committee removal, was persuaded during the meeting to vote in favor of it.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) first conveyed his plan to hold a vote on Omar’s committee assignment in an interview with Breitbart News more than a year ago.
“Ilhan Omar should not be serving on Foreign Affairs,” McCarthy said at the time. “This is a new level of what the Democrats have done.”
The House voted mostly on partisan lines to strip Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) of their committee assignments in 2021 because of their inflammatory rhetoric and social media posts. That same year, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected two of McCarthy’s choices for the January 6 select committee.
A full House vote to strip Omar from her Foreign Affairs Committee seat is expected at some point soon, but whether McCarthy has enough votes for the measure to pass remains up in the air. Reps. Nancy Mace (R-SC) and Victoria Spartz (R-IN) have expressed that they will not support it, meaning McCarthy can afford only a couple of other defections before the measure would fail, assuming Democrats vote unanimously against it.
Republicans’ opposition to Omar serving on the committee comes after the two-term Minnesota Democrat gained a reputation upon entering the congressional scene for promoting antisemitic tropes, such as claiming Israel had “hypnotized the world” and that congressional support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins.”
Omar apologized after taking heat for the remarks but continued to hold a vocally anti-Israel position.
In 2019, Omar introduced a resolution that supported the anti-Israel “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (BDS) movement. In 2021, she lumped “atrocities” supposedly committed by the U.S. and Israel to those committed by the Taliban and Hamas. Equating the U.S. and its Middle East ally to the two terrorist groups led to condemnation from her own party’s leadership and again resulted in Omar apologizing. Later in 2021, Omar was one of just nine members of the House to vote against a $1 billion investment in Israel’s defense system.
Omar contended at the press conference Wednesday, “Policy differences alone have not and must not be cause for eliminating someone from serving on a committee.”
“In modern American history the punishment of stripping a member of Congress of their committee assignments has been reserved for only the most egregious wrongdoings,” Omar said, pointing to “those convicted or indicted on corruption, those who have engaged in bribery, sexual misconduct, encouraged violence, or other grave charges.”
Asked by a reporter at the press conference if Omar wanted to once again defend her past actions, as she has done before, Omar responded, “I have addressed it. I have apologized. It’s been two and a half terms ago,” though neither Omar nor the reporter referenced any specific actions.