House Republicans on Feb. 2 voted to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) over past comments that critics have called anti-Semitic.
The resolution passed the lower chamber along party lines, with 218 Republicans voting to remove Omar and 211 Democrats voting against the resolution. One lawmaker voted present. Three Republicans and one Democrat did not vote.
Despite some pushback from GOP critics of the move, the measure easily overcame a procedural hurdle to begin debate in a 218–209 vote along party lines on Feb. 1.
Omar has in the past been critical of the state of Israel, whose treatment of nearby Christians and Muslims in Palestine is one of the most hotly contested issues in modern geopolitics.
In 2019, Omar replied to a tweet from journalist Glenn Greenwald:
“GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for [Omar] and [Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)] over their criticisms of Israel,” the tweet reads. “It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.”
In her reply, Omar said, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”
Critics ranging from Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that this was a covert antisemitic trope, and many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have in the past contended that criticism of Israel constitutes antisemitism.
“Rep. Omar’s use of an anti-Semitic stereotype was offensive and irresponsible,” Schumer said in a Feb. 2019 tweet.
“This kind of intolerance has no place in Congress—or anywhere in American society,” he added. “No one should invoke anti-Semitic tropes during policy disagreements.”
Omar later apologized for those remarks.
McCarthy has long promised that he would remove Omar from the HFAC when he got the gavel. McCarthy has contended that Omar’s past comments about Israel make it a national security issue for her to serve on the committee.
By Joseph Lord