House votes to kick Rep. Ilhan Omar off Foreign Affairs Committee
Washington – The House of Representatives voted Thursday to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her controversial past comments about Israel, ousting the Minnesota Democrat in a show of force from the newly empowered Republican majority.
The vote on the resolution to remove Omar from the panel was 218 to 211 and fell strictly along party lines, with one GOP member voting “present.”
The resolution to remove Omar cited tweets and comments she made in 2019 and 2021 in which she invoked anti-Semitic tropes, including criticism of pro-Israel politicians as “all about the Benjamins” and compared the US and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban. The remarks drew criticism from fellow Democrats as well as Republicans.
“Representative Omar, by her own words, has disqualified herself from serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee, a panel viewed by nations around the world as speaking for Congress on matters of international importance and national security,” the resolution said. adding. that her comments “brought dishonor to the House of Representatives.”
Republicans have vowed to take action against Omar and other Democrats since 2021, when Democrats controlled the House and voted to remove far-right Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar from their committee posts over their comments. controversial. McCarthy reinstated both members to committee seats after becoming chairman last month.
Democrats condemned the move as a politically motivated stunt and pointed to McCarthy’s decision to place GOP Rep. George Santos on two committees, despite Santos’ admission that he fabricated large parts of his biography. Santos told his colleagues this week that he would not serve on committees for now.
Some GOP representatives had expressed due process concerns about Omar’s resolution, but ultimately supported it after adding a provision establishing an appeals process for those removed from the committees. GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, one of the reservations who ultimately voted for the resolution, said she secured a commitment from McCarthy to support working with Democrats to reform the removal process, with the goal of avoiding a cycle endless -for-tats when House control rolls over.
“Everybody knows on both sides that you don’t want to keep going back and forth,” Mace told reporters on Capitol Hill. “So if that’s going to be the standard, let’s create the standard together going forward and actually have a process, because we have a process for censure, we have a process for expelling a member of Congress, but we don’t we have a process in the rules or the Ethics Committee to remove a member from your committees.”
The speaker said Wednesday that there are “many committees” Omar could serve on, but the Foreign Affairs Committee, given the sensitivity of his work, is not one of them.
“I’m not saying she can’t have committees,” McCarthy said after a meeting at the White House. “But to sit in Foreign Affairs, I worry about … what the rest of the world sees, every single word that’s said there. I’m worried about predetermining what she believes in that situation. She admitted herself, she didn’t even know that referring to financial money, dollars, it was a book for those who are Jewish.”
Asked about her past comments on CNN on Sunday, Omar said she didn’t realize at the time they were “trafficking in anti-Semitism” and called McCarthy’s attempt to remove her from the committee “politically motivated.”
“Yes, I could have used words at the time that I didn’t realize were anti-Semitism,” Omar said on Sunday. “When this was brought to my attention, I apologized. I owned it. That’s the kind of person I am. And I continue to work with my colleagues and my community to fight anti-Semitism.”
During the vote on Thursday, Omar apparently wore a bracelet with the words, “God bless anyone who hates me,” and posted a photo on Twitter.
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Thursday he will nominate Omar to the House Budget Committee.
Last month, McCarthy also blocked Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, which he could do unilaterally, since the Intelligence panel is a select committee. Omar’s removal required a full House vote.
Ellis Kim contributed reporting.