House votes to remove Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs Committee: What did she say?
Republicans have moved to remove The Squad member from an influential committee, claiming that she had made anti-Semetic comments in the past.
The House of Representatives has voted to remove Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee. The move from the Republican-led chamber has been characterised as a response to GOP members being removed in the previous Congress.
Members of the House Republican Caucus have pointed to previous comments made by Omar which have been interpreted as anti-Semitic in some corners.
The motion was passed on a party-line vote - 218 to 211 – with Republican Rep. David Joyce voting ‘present’.
Shortly before the vote took place, with her membership of the Foreign Affairs Committee almost certainly over, Omar remained defiant: “My leadership and voice will not be diminished if I am not on this committee for one term. My voice will get louder and stronger.”
What did Ilhan Omar say?
The Minnesota Democrat is a member of the House’s nine-person group of progressives known as The Squad. She was criticised in 2019 for a tweet that claimed that certain pro-Israel groups were “all about the Benjamins, baby,” in reference to $100 bills. A number of lawmakers, including some Democrats, said that this invoked an anti-Semitic trope and Ilhan apologized for the language used.
She was also criticised in 2021 for tweeting that “we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban”. Some, including Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler, warned that her choice of words had equated the US and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban.
“False equivalencies give cover to terrorist groups,” Nadler said at the time.
Partisan politics may be the reason for Omar’s dismissal
However the decision to remove Omar from the Committee has been seen as more of a political ploy that a genuine objection to her previous remarks. After the vote count was confirmed on Thursday, Democrat Rep. Gregory Meeks said that the Republicans were guilty of “a blatant double standard.”
While her past comments have been criticised by members of her own party, those voices were a minority and the decision to remove her from the committee was described by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries as an attempt to exact “political revenge”.
After the House voted to remove Omar, Jeffries tweeted: “I will move immediately to seat Rep. Omar on the House Budget Committee where she will defend Democratic values against right-wing extremism.”
Last year Rep. Kevin McCarthy, recently-installed as House Speaker, vowed to remove Democratic Reps. Omar, Schiff and Swalwell from their committee assignments if the GOP flipped the House in the midterms. McCarthy said that the Democrats had set a “new standard” for conduct by removing Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green and Paul Gosnar from committees. Both had been removed for using violent rhetoric in social media posts.
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