- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 2, 2023

The House on Thursday removed Rep. Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee for her antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric.

Ms. Omar, a Minnesota Democrat and member of the far-left “Squad,” was kicked off the committee in a 218-211 vote along party lines.

Ms. Omar, who came to the U.S. as a Somali refugee and was one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, said Republicans were targeting her because she is an immigrant, a Black woman and a Muslim.

“This debate today is about who is going to be an American,” Ms. Omar said in a floor speech before the vote. “There is an idea that you are suspect if you are an immigrant.”

Ms. Omar has been vocal about her opposition to the Israeli government and its supporters, particularly on the issue of Palestinian rights, which led to the accusations of antisemitism.

Republicans said it was Ms. Omar’s rhetoric, which also offended Democratic lawmakers, that got her expelled from the committee. They conceded that it was partly payback for the Democratic ouster in the last Congress of some Republicans from committees.

The removal of Ms. Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee also fulfilled a campaign promise by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Before Republicans won control of the House in November elections, he pledged to punish Ms. Omar and others in retaliation for Democrats’ ouster of Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona from all of their committee assignments.

Rep. Michael Guest, Mississippi Republican, said Ms. Omar deserved to be ousted because, in the eyes of the world, members of the Foreign Affairs Committee speak not just for their constituents but also for Congress.

“All members, both Republicans and Democrats alike who seek to serve on Foreign Affairs should be held to the highest standard of conduct due to the international sensitivity and national security concerns under the jurisdiction of this committee,” Mr. Guest said.

Republicans noted that the biggest difference between Ms. Omar’s removal from the Foreign Affairs Committee and the two Republicans who lost their committee assignments was that the Minnesota Democrat was removed from only one panel.

“They removed me from all committees,” Ms. Greene told reporters ahead of the vote. “She can serve on any of the other ones. That’s not hypocritical. That’s a big difference.”

Mr. McCarthy prevented two other Democrats from taking committee seats last week: Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both of California, on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Unlike the Foreign Affairs Committee, the speaker can block a lawmaker from an appointment to the intelligence panel.

Democrats decried the treatment of Ms. Omar as an act of political spite.

“What’s going to take place on the floor today is not a public policy debate. It’s not about accountability. It’s about political revenge,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, New York Democrat, said before the vote.

He acknowledged that Ms. Omar has “certainly made mistakes.”

“She has used antisemitic tropes that were clearly and unequivocally condemned by House Democrats when it took place four years ago,” Mr. Jeffries said.

Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, insisted that Ms. Omar’s removal from the Foreign Affairs Committee was not mere revenge.

“It’s not tit for tat,” he said, “The Democrats in the last Congress removed Republican members from all committees. They even judged [Ms. Greene] not based upon what she had said as a member of Congress but what she said prior to ever getting here. And they removed her from all committees.”

Mr. McCarthy said he was working with Mr. Jeffries to establish rules of conduct to remove the cloud of partisanship from future committee expulsions.

“Every single member of Congress has a responsibility as to how they carry themselves. And it’s responsible upon us to let them know what that is,” Mr. McCarthy said.

During the floor debate, fellow “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Michigan Democrat, became emotional as she portrayed Ms. Omar as a victim of censorship and discrimination.

“Where are the free speech warriors today? The hypocrisy is obvious to the American people. You are showing who you all are, really. congresswoman Omar, I know you will not be silenced. To congresswoman Omar, I am so sorry, sis, that our country is failing you today through this chamber,” Ms. Tlaib said.

The resolution, authored by Rep. Max Miller, an Ohio Republican who is Jewish, listed several incidents in which Ms. Omar’s antisemitic statements angered Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

In 2021, when Ms. Omar equated the U.S. and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban, 12 Democratic lawmakers who are Jewish called her remarks “offensive” and “misguided.”

In 2019, Ms. Omar responded to a tweet by journalist Glenn Greenwald that stated, “GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time U.S. political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”

Ms. Omar replied, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” in reference to $100 bills. Republicans and Democrats, especially Jewish lawmakers, denounced the tweet. Within hours, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, issued a joint statement calling Ms. Omar’s “use of antisemitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters” offensive and called for an apology.

In March 2019, Ms. Omar described the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 in the U.S. as “Some people did something.”

Mica Soellner contributed to this report.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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