Dec 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Progressives call for swift Boebert punishment

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush are seen walking through the Capitol last month.
Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush (far right) walk through the Capitol last month. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

House progressives are seeking concrete punishment for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) as retribution for her incendiary remarks against one of their own, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

Why it matters: House Democratic leaders continue to consider their options amid the latest ugly incident in their chamber. Republicans are already threatening retaliation after Democrats stripped Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) of her committee assignments and censured Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).

  • "She needs to be removed from her committees, absolutely," Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) said of Boebert on Wednesday.
  • Boebert, walking past Bush on the Capitol steps as she spoke to Axios, shot her a glance but remained silent. Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
  • Bush expressed hope "there are enough of us, or we can mobilize enough of us, to help leadership to see why this is a must." She said House leaders should act immediately, rather than "waiting to see what the Republicans will do."

What they're saying: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a fellow member of The Squad with Omar, told Axios there are a "number of options before us," including censure and stripping committee assignments.

  • “I do believe we need to take an action," Ocasio-Cortez said.
  • Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) has also called for Democrats to strip Boebert's committee assignments.
  • “Republicans should do that, but if Republicans don’t, yes, I think the majority should act," he said.
  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told Axios that stripping Boebert's committee assignments should be a "bipartisan thing," but added, "If it’s not going to be, then we might have to be the ones to do it.”

But, but, but: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a warning to Democrats in a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday morning.

She said continuing to punish right-wingers for their incendiary rhetoric could end up backfiring.

  • "This is hard because these people are doing it for the publicity," Pelosi said, according to a source in the room.
  • "There's a judgment that has to be made about how we contribute to their fundraising and their publicity on how obnoxious and disgusting they can be," Pelosi added.
  • But Pelosi also said Boebert's rhetoric is "dangerous," and that the majority "cannot allow [Republicans] to endanger members of Congress, especially because of her faith.”

Between the lines: Omar sent shockwaves through the Capitol on Tuesday by playing a threatening, slur-filled voicemail she received from an unnamed caller, which she said was a result of Boebert's relentless anti-Muslim attacks.

  • Boebert is one of several right-wing members — including Greene — who refer to Omar and her progressive colleagues as the "Jihad Squad."
  • Boebert triggered sharp criticism this week for recounting a story in which she suggested Omar is a terror threat. She later apologized "to anyone in the Muslim community I offended."
  • Omar has said the encounter Boebert described never occurred.
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