Washington DC – In one of his first moves since becoming Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy blocks Congressman Ilhan Omar from joining the House Foreign Relations Committee, citing his past criticism of Israel. We are leading efforts to
On Wednesday, the House Republican majority advanced a resolution to remove Omar from the panel. Democrats opposed the move, accusing McCarthy of being biased for targeting the politician. A former refugee of Somali descent, there are only two Muslim women serving in the U.S. Congress.
A minority of Republicans initially opposed McCarthy’s efforts, questioning his ability to pass resolutions against Omar, given the narrow Republican majority.
But on Wednesday, all 218 House Republicans in attendance voted to go ahead with the bill, as Democrats continued to unite in favor of Omar with 209 votes. A final vote is scheduled for Thursday as progressives converge around Omar.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) defended Omar, calling her a “respected and irreplaceable” MP.
“Members cannot be removed from a committee simply because they disagree with their views. This is both ridiculous and dangerous,” CPC Chairman Pramila Jayapal said in a statement Monday.
.@Ilhan MN The first African-born MP and the only member of the House Foreign Relations Committee to live in a refugee camp. It’s a shame that her Republicans are trying to remove her after years of slandering her, and we need her voice, values and expertise on her committee. https://t.co/e1M5ajM0T4
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 30, 2023
The resolution directed at Omar, submitted by Ohio Republican Max Miller on Tuesday, cites a number of controversies, including lawmakers’ criticism of Israel and US foreign policy.
“Given the prejudice against Israel and Jews, Senator Omar cannot be an objective decision maker on the Foreign Affairs Committee,” Miller said in a statement.
Omar countered that there was nothing “objectively correct” about the resolution, adding that “nobody will be on a committee if being unobjective is the reason not to be on the committee.”
A Republican resolution accuses Omar of being anti-Semitic, but it only evokes remarks about Israel, not Jews.
For example, the bill condemns lawmakers who have described Israel as an “apartheid state,” but major human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, also believe Israel imposes a system of apartheid on Palestinians. I am accusing you of doing so.
Early in his career in Congress in 2019, Omar suggested that political contributions from pro-Israel lobby groups, including the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), boost support for Israel in Washington. faced a storm of criticism.
Omar later apologized for the remarks, but the Palestinian rights advocate said the anti-Semitic accusations against Israeli critics were aimed at stifling debate about the Israeli government’s policies.
Over the past two years, AIPAC and other pro-Israel organizations have spent millions of dollars in parliamentary elections to defeat progressives who support Palestinian human rights. Among them is Andy Levin, a left-leaning Jewish former congressman from Michigan.
Democrats now support Omar, but the Republican resolution highlights previous criticism of the House of Representatives by top Democrats.
Lara Friedman, president of the Middle East Peace Foundation, an advocacy and research group, said Republicans are trying to use the statements and actions of Democrats to test their arguments against Omar.
“They own this,” she said of the Democrats who previously attacked Omar. …and that decision is now the basis of the resolution being used to remove her from the committee.”
Friedman added that Omar and her fellow Muslim-American lawmaker Rashida Talibu are held to “different standards” when it comes to dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Both lawmakers were the target of racist attacks by former President Donald Trump in 2019, who, along with other progressive women lawmakers of color, called them “the corrupt crime rampant they were born into.” I have to go back to my place,” he tweeted.
Omar, in particular, has become a frequent target of Trump’s anti-refugee rhetoric ahead of the 2020 election. At one rally in 2019, Trump failed to intervene after her supporters chanted “send her back” in reference to Omar.
Friedman said the attack on Omar would appeal to Republican constituencies and would work well for the party politically.
“Tomorrow, when the Democrats vote against this, the Republican argument will be like this, so it’s a very convenient way to embarrass and corner the Democrats. You said all these things [against Omar]Why don’t you hold her accountable? Politically, this is great for them. ”
For her part, Omar remained defiant, calling McCarthy’s efforts to remove her from the committee “pathetic” against initial objections from his own caucuses.
manager @Ilhan A devoted member of parliament, a refugee, a fierce human rights fighter, and has earned a position on the Foreign Relations Committee. Stop the prejudices and sit Congressman Omar.
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) January 31, 2023
Yasmine Taeb, the legislative and political director of the MPower Change Action Fund, a Muslim-American advocacy group, praised Omar’s commitment to a “human rights-centric foreign policy.”
“Rep. Omar speaks truth to power, which is rare in Congress. And House Republican leaders attack progressive black Muslim women rather than address the needs of the American people.” and hopes to waste time by pushing far-right agendas.
Omar has been a vocal supporter of human rights and diplomacy in Congress. Her comments about Israel often make headlines, but she also criticizes human rights violations in other countries, including those in the Middle East.
Yet critics accused her of perpetuating anti-Semitic tropes in her criticism of Israel, and even Allies called some of her comments “sloppy,” if not malicious. is expressed as
On Thursday, Win Without War, a group that promotes foreign policy in U.S. foreign policy, launched Republican Omar in an attempt to strip the House Foreign Relations Committee of “progressive champions and seasoned legislators who challenge the political status quo.” denounced the pressure on
“Members of Congress. Omar has helped raise the bar for progressive foreign policy in Congress. has confronted racism and Islamophobia in its foreign policy,” said Executive Director Sarah Hagdusti in a statement.
A parliamentary committee functions as a specialized microcosm of parliament. Panels advance legislation, exercise oversight, and have unparalleled authority over the legislative process.
The ruling party usually appoints the chairman and majority of the members of the committee, while the opposition nominates its own members to the committee.
But in 2021, Democrats voted to remove Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Green from the committee assigned to her for past conspiratorial, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic comments.
That same year, the Democratic House majority formally accused Paul Gossar, another far-right Republican, of sharing an animated video depicting the murder of Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Green now outspokenly supports removing Omar from the Foreign Relations Committee.
“You shouldn’t be on the committee with that attitude toward Israel,” Green said earlier this week. “In my opinion, it would be the wrong attitude for any member of the U.S. Congress to take such an attitude toward our great ally, Israel.”
After Green was stripped of his commission duties, McCarthy openly promised a payoff for Democrats if they became a minority in the House. This is what happened in the 2022 midterm elections.
“You’re going to regret this. And you might regret this much sooner than you think,” McCarthy said at the time.
The newly elected Speaker also blocked Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from joining the Intelligence Committee. Schiff was the former chairman of the panel.
Meanwhile, Republican Congressman George Santos is being asked to resign for lying about his heritage and professional and personal history.