After extensive debate, House Republicans voted to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The vote, which finished 218-211 was a major victory for Republicans, who focused on the congresswoman’s previous statements that "under the totality of the circumstances, disqualify her from serving on the Committee of Foreign Affairs." Among these were anti-Israeli comments she made in reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) stated:
All members, both Republicans and Democrats alike who seek to serve on Foreign Affairs, should be held to the highest standard of conduct due to the international sensitivity and national security concerns under the jurisdiction of this committee.
Democrats often consistently criticized the Republican Party for attacking Omar due to her race.
Some of Omar's controversial comments
Omar entered Congress in 2019, generating controversy for speaking out on social media against lawmakers who supported Israel and claiming that they were motivated by money. Some of these were used to justify her removal from the committee.
In a tweet, she criticized the Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): "It's all about the Benjamins, baby," referencing $100 bills and playing into antisemitic stereotypes regarding Jews and money. She was also asked on Twitter about who she believed was paying members of Congress to support Israel. Omar replied, "AIPAC!"
Her remarks prompted a public rebuke from then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, who said Omar had gone too far with these comments. The congresswoman decided to apologize:
We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.
"Omar's comments have brought dishonor to the House"
Committee Chairman Michael McCaul excluded Omar from the panel during a recent closed-door meeting with his Republican colleagues.
It's just that her worldview of Israel is so diametrically opposed to the committee's. … I don't mind having differences of opinion, but this goes beyond that.
Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio), who introduced the resolution, referred to the Democrat's statements, "Omar's comments have brought dishonor to the House of Representatives."
Miller, one of two Jewish Republicans in the House, said in a statement that he believes Omar cannot make objective decisions on the Committee of Foreign Affairs “given her biases against Israel and against the Jewish people."
Among Omar’s fellow party members, her biggest defenders were Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who admitted that Omar "made mistakes." However, he claimed that the vote for her removal was "not about accountability, it’s about political revenge."
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, visibly upset as she expressed her position, said the GOP's action was one of the most "disgusting legacies after 9/11” and an "incitement of violence against women of color."
I think one of the things we should talk about, and what is one of the disgusting legacies after 9/11, has been the targeting and racism against Muslim-Americans throughout the United States of America. And this is an extension of that legacy. …There is nothing consistent with the Republican party’s continued attack except for the racism and incitement of violence against women of color in this body.
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— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) February 2, 2023
Previous expulsion actions
When Democrats held power in Congress two years ago, they removed several Republican representatives from committees. These instances include those of Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona. At the time, there was no apparent precedent for the House of Representatives to remove a member from a committee.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy has already blocked action for Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both California Democrats, from rejoining the House Intelligence Committee. While appointments to the intelligence panel are at the discretion of the president, the decision on Omar required a vote from the House.