House votes to fire Rep. Ilhan Omar out of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Washington – The House voted Thursday to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her earlier controversial comments about Israel, ousting the Minnesota Democrat in a show of force from the newly empowered Republican majority.

The vote on the decision 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, invoking anti-Semitic tropes, including criticizing pro-Israel politicians as being “all about Benjamins”, and comparing the US and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban. The comments invoked criticism from fellow Democrats as well as Republicans.

“Representative Omar, in her own words, has disqualified herself from serving on the Committee on Foreign Relations, a panel considered by nations around the world to speak for Congress on matters of international importance and national security,” the resolution said, adding. that her comments “have brought dishonor to the House of Representatives.”

Republicans have vowed to act against Omar and other Democrats since 2021, when Democrats controlled the House and voted to strip the far-right GOP representatives. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar from their committee assignments over their own controversial comments. McCarthy returned both members to committee seats after he became speaker last month.

Democrats dismissed the move as a politically motivated stunt, pointing to McCarthy’s decision to appoint GOP Rep. George Santos to two committees despite Santos’ admission that he fabricated large parts of his biography. Santos told his colleagues this week that he would not sit on the committee for the time being.

More GOP holdouts had expressed concerns about fairness in the Omar resolution, but ultimately supported it after the addition of a provision establishing an appeals process for those removed from committee. GOP Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina, one of those with 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 avoid an endless tit-for-tat when control of the house flips.

“Everybody recognizes on both sides that you don’t want to keep going back and forth,” Mace told reporters on Capitol Hill. “So if this is going to be the standard, let’s together create the standard going forward and actually have a process, because we have a process for censure, we have a process for expelling a member from Congress, but we don’t have a process in the rules or in the Ethics Committee to remove a member from your committee.”

The speaker said Wednesday that there are “many committees” Omar can serve on, but the Foreign Affairs Committee, given the sensitivity of its 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 is looking at, every word that is said there. I worry about predetermining what she believes in that situation. She herself admitted, she did not herself by referring to financial money, dollars, was a trope for those who happened to be Jewish.”

Asked about her earlier comments on CNN on Sunday, Omar said she didn’t realize at the time they were “dealing with anti-Semitism” and called McCarthy’s efforts to remove her from the committee “politically motivated.”

“Yes, I could have used words at the time that I didn’t understand were trading in anti-Semitism,” Omar said on Sunday. “When I was made aware of it, 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 the one who hates me” and tweeted a picture.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Thursday he will appoint Omar to the House Budget Committee.

Last month also McCarthy blocked The Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell of the House Intelligence Committee, which he could do unilaterally since the intelligence panel is a select committee. Removing Omar required a vote of the entire House.

Ellis Kim contributed reporting.

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