The House voted Wednesday 218-209 to approve rules for a floor debate that would keep Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) off the Foreign Affairs Committee for the new congressional term.
After a few days of figuring out whether they had the votes, the House settled on a rule Tuesday night to set parameters for a floor vote on Thursday.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had vowed to eject Omar from the Foreign Committee as well as Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell (both D-CA) from the Intelligence Panel.
He was able to unilaterally block Swalwell and Schiff, but Omar’s removal needs a full House vote.
Razor-thin vote margin
Currently, McCarthy can only lose three votes and still have a majority because Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) is recovering from a traumatic fall and won’t be present for the vote.
Until recently, GOP Reps. Ken Buck (CO), Nancy Mace (SC) and Victoria Spartz (IN) all said they opposed the measure, but Buck and Spartz reversed their positions yesterday after an appeals provision was added to the rules.
Since the GOP now has the votes, McCarthy moved forward to advance the resolution.
He wants Omar off the committee because of repeated anti-Semitic remarks she has made since being elected to Congress.
Omar, a Somali immigrant, has made the comments since 2019, when she said that U.S. support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins” and that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
She later apologized for these comments, which she said were anti-Semtitic tropes that she didn’t fully understand when she said them.
But only a month after her apology she criticized powerful forces for what she saw as a “push for allegiance to a foreign country.” For this comment she did not apologize, even though it used a “dual loyalty” trope.
Later in 2019, Omar also lumped American and Israeli so-called “atrocities” in with those of Hamas and the Taliban. Again, no apology except the clarification that she “was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”
Her comments led to a House resolution condemning anti-Semitism, though they didn’t name her specifically.
It’s clear that someone who has such an antagonistic view of a major U.S. ally, Israel, should not sit on the committee that determines the nature of the U.S. relationship to and behavior toward that ally.
She can claim all the Islamophobia she wants, but it’s her own hatred of Israel that has determined this action against her.