Washington (Caasimada Online) – Amidst a tumultuous debate, House Republicans voted Thursday to remove Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, citing her controversial remarks about Israel.
The vote was broadly divided along party lines and resulted in a 218-211 count. The decision to remove a member from a House committee is a significant escalation of tensions following the Democratic removal of far-right GOP lawmakers from committees two years prior.
Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, successfully secured Republican support against the Somali-born Muslim congresswoman in the new Congress, despite some GOP lawmakers expressing reservations.
The resolution was proposed by Ohio Representative Max Miller, a former Trump administration official, who declared that Omar’s comments brought “dishonor to the House of Representatives.”
Democrats accused the GOP of targeting Omar based on her race and religion. In her defense on the House floor, Omar questioned if anyone was surprised by the move and stated, “my voice will get louder and stronger, and my leadership will be celebrated around the world.”
Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York acknowledged that Omar had made mistakes and used anti-Semitic tropes but maintained that Thursday’s vote was not about accountability but rather political revenge.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went even further, claiming that the GOP’s action was a continuation of the “disgusting legacy after 9/11,” referring to the targeting and racism against Muslim Americans in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. She said the move was targeted explicitly against women of color.
Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, quickly generated controversy in 2019 after her tweets suggested that lawmakers who supported Israel were motivated by money.
The tweets led to a public rebuke from then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats. Omar eventually apologized for her comments.
“We always have to be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me about my identity,” Omar tweeted. “This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Texas Representative Michael McCaul, argued that Omar’s views on Israel were incompatible with the committee’s and that while he was open to differences of opinion, this went beyond that.
Some Republicans had requested “due process” for lawmakers facing removal, and McCarthy stated that he would work with Democrats to create a due process system, though it is still a work in progress.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has prevented Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from being reinstated on the House Intelligence Committee after the Republicans gained control of the chamber in January. Although the Speaker has the authority to make appointments to the intelligence committee, a House vote is necessary to remove Omar.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES