House votes to remove Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs Committee
The House on Thursday voted to pass a resolution removing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Why it matters: The vote marks the latest reprisal in an escalating partisan tit-for-tat over committee assignments that House members in both parties have said should end.
- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) vowed in 2021 to retaliate against Democrats over the removal of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) from their committees.
- McCarthy also blocked Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from staying on the House Intelligence Committee last week.
Driving the news: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) announced Thursday that he is moving "immediately to seat Rep. Omar on the House Budget Committee."
- "Where she will defend Democratic values against right-wing extremism," Jeffries wrote in a tweet.
- Omar said on the House floor Thursday: "This debate today, it's about who gets to be an American. What opinions do we get to have, do we have to have to be counted as Americans, this is what this debate is about. "
- "I am Muslim. I am an immigrant ... Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy?" she said.
- "Frankly, it is expected," Omar added.
By the numbers: The resolution passed 218-211 along party lines. It cites six comments Omar made about Israel, pro-Israel groups and 9/11 between 2019 and 2021 that were slammed as antisemitic by lawmakers in both parties.
- Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), a member of the Ethics Committee, voted present.
- Omar has previously apologized for tweets on Israel that attracted bipartisan criticism, saying that she is "grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating [her] on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes."
What they're saying: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who was elected in 2018 alongside Omar, said: "This is about targeting women of color in the United States of America."
- Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) on Thursday said: “Where are the free speech warriors today? The hypocrisy is obvious to the American people.”
- "You are showing who you all are really," she added. "I know Congresswoman Omar will not be silenced."
McCarthy argued Thursday that Omar's removal was not "tit-for-tat."
- "We're not removing her from other committees, we just do not believe when it comes to foreign affairs ... she shouldn't serve there," he said.
- "If it was tit-for-tat we would've picked people, took them off all committees and said nothing about it," he added.
How it happened: McCarthy secured the votes he needed by agreeing to spend the next 30 days working on creating a process that would require the Ethics Committee to sign off on efforts by one party to remove another party’s members from committees.
- That would require at least one Democrat on the evenly-divided panel to support removal, raising the bar for such resolutions to make it onto the House floor.
- Reps. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) voted yes after securing a commitment from McCarthy to reform the process to make future removals more difficult.
- Despite some Democrats criticizing Omar contemporaneously for her rhetoric, they put up a united front against the resolution on Thursday.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional reporting and details.