Dec 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Vote on anti-Islamophobia bill not enough for Boebert critics

Rep. Jimmy Gomez is seen during a congressional hearing.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some House progressives are doubling down in their demand for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) to face some form of retribution for her anti-Muslim rhetoric, as House leaders prepare to hold a vote on a different bill to combat Islamophobia.

Why it matters: Boebert's committee assignments hang in the balance as progressives push a resolution to oust her from her panels — legislation that's triggered tap-dancing by Democratic leaders. They're concerned ousting Boebert will only encourage similar Republican action.

  • Asked about the bill on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “I don’t feel like talking about what the Republicans aren’t doing, or are doing about the disgraceful, unacceptable behavior of their members.”
  • Pelosi denied leadership is using the Islamophobia bill as a substitute to address the Boebert controversy, telling Axios on Thursday, “It’s not; it’s about addressing Islamophobia in our country.”
  • She declined to take a position on the Boebert bill, saying, “I’m not answering that question to you. You will know when I make my announcement.”

Driving the news: Boebert is under fire for telling a story in which she suggested Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a Muslim of Somali descent, is a terrorist threat.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Thursday the House would vote next week on Omar's bill to create a special envoy to combat Islamophobia, pending action from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

  • The timing is conspicuous, coming amid the House's renewed focus on Islamophobia: the bill was introduced in October but no action has since been taken on it.
  • "The timing may be ideal in that sense, when you see a member of the House of Representatives engaging in Islamophobia themselves," Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), the chief deputy majority whip, told Axios.
  • Kildee said removing Boebert from her committees "should be on the table," but noted that many Republicans have made equally inflammatory comments.
  • "The reality is they wear that punishment as a badge of courage and raise money off of it," he said.

What they're saying: "Of course we all are against Islamophobia, but it was specifically spewed by Rep. Lauren Boebert, and she has to be held accountable," Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), a co-sponsor of the bill to strip Boebert's committee assignments, told Axios.

  • "It doesn't go as far as I would like," Gomez said of using the Islamophobia bill.
  • Gomez floated several compromise actions against Boebert, including having her "go on the floor and apologize in a sincere way" or stripping her committee assignments for "maybe a few months" rather than the whole year.
  • Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) said he's "happy [Omar's bill] is moving," but added, "Is that enough in terms of holding Boebert accountable? I'd say no. ... She literally called another member of Congress a terrorist."

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), another co-sponsor, said she'll "always support a bill around Islamophobia but I don't know that that's going to satisfy the issue of accountability, which I think is really important."

  • Jayapal suggested merging the Islamophobia bill with the Boebert measure as a way to fast-track the latter bill.
  • "I don't think we should keep delaying action on Boebert," said Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
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