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Rep. Ilhan Omar is seen playing a threatening voicemail on Tuesday night. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The political back-and-forth between Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) took a jarring turn Tuesday night, when Omar played a tape of a death threat she said she received after Boebert made anti-Muslim comments about her.

Driving the news: Omar alternately quavered and wore a stern expression as she stood in a House television gallery, held a phone and played a voicemail in which an unnamed caller called her a "Sand [n-word] bitch" and a "f-cking traitor."

Why it matters: House Democratic leadership had already been considering taking action against Boebert for her "harmful and dangerous" comments against Omar. It comes as Congress navigates new levels of hateful, racist and gendered rhetoric against lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

  • House Democrats met Tuesday night to discuss a resolution condemning Islamaphobia but did not reach an agreement, a source familiar with the matter told Axios.
  • Omar told reporters during her news conference that Boebert's comments "cannot go without punishment," adding that "if and when the Republican conference fails to do so, it is going to be our job to do that.”

What they're saying:

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who, like Boebert, often uses the term “Jihad Squad” to brand Omar and her fellow members of The Squad, said she doesn’t watch Omar’s press conferences and refused to listen to a recording of the voicemail.
  • “I receive death threats because of your bullsh-t, so don’t throw that at me,” Greene told reporters 0n the Capitol steps Tuesday night. She told an aide she was being “accosted by ridiculous media trying to blame death threats on [me].”
  • Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) was censured and booted from committees earlier this month after tweeting an anime video depicting violence against President Biden and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), another member of the Democratic progressive Squad.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who voted to strip the committee assignments of Greene and Gosar, told Axios he would “consider” a similar measure for Boebert.
  • Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said, “I do think we should be professionals. Let’s treat each other with respect."
  • Alluding to an earlier exchange between Greene and a fellow Republican, Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Bacon added that "calling someone ‘trash’ is wrong, too. I just think it’s beneath us.”

The backdrop: Following the weekend release of Boebert's jabs at Omar, the two had a phone call on Monday that devolved into them demanding public apologies from one another.

  • Omar eventually hung up, according to accounts from both lawmakers.
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that call was not sanctioned by Democratic leadership, but that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had earlier proposed such a call on the premise Boebert wanted to apologize.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 13, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy declines interview with Jan. 6 select committee

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Wednesday he will not participate with the Jan. 6 select committee's request to interview him about his communications with former President Trump.

Driving the news: McCarthy, the highest-ranking elected official the panel has asked for information, said that he had nothing to add and criticized the panel's "abuse of power."

America can't quit polarizing politicians

Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New data finds that the nation's most polarizing politicians are often the ones that garner the most attention online.

Why it matters: Online engagement helps politicians build a bigger national profile and more fundraising power, incentivizing them be more outrageous, more polarizing and more divisive.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
27 mins ago - Science

It's time to take reproduction in space seriously

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Before humans can settle off-Earth, scientists need to figure out how — or even whether — people can reproduce in space.

Why it matters: Powerful figures in the space industry like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have dreams of a future where millions of people live in space, which would naturally require a self-sustaining population of humans somewhere other than Earth.

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