Dems denounce Republican vote to remove Ilhan Omar from House committee

After Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was ousted from her seat on the House Foreign Affairs committee Thursday in a party-line vote, she received support from fellow "Squad" member, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who delivered an impassioned speech on the House floor. Omar's removal was in response to previous controversial remarks that invoked antisemitism.

"There is nothing consistent about the Republican party's continued attack except for racism and incitement of violence against women of color in this body," said Ocasio-Cortez Thursday, alleging that Omar was removed from the committee because she is Black and Muslim, and not because of the comments she made.

The resolution to remove Omar referenced past tweets of the congresswoman's which were critical of Israel and AIPAC — a pro-Israel lobbying group — and were widely denounced as being antisemitic. She has since apologized.

Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is seen after the House voted to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Feb. 2, 2023.  / Credit: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is seen after the House voted to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Feb. 2, 2023. / Credit: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The vote was down party lines, with 218 Republicans voting in favor and 211 Democrats voting against. One Republican, Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio, voted present.

"I had a member of the Republican caucus threaten my life and you all, and the Republican Caucus, rewarded him with one of the most prestigious committee assignments in this Congress," Ocasio-Cortez said.

That member in question was Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who was stripped of his committee assignments in 2021 following a tweet that depicted animated violence against Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden. Gosar was reinstated this year to positions on the Natural Resources Committee and the Oversight Committee.

"Don't tell me this is about a condemnation of antisemitic remarks when you have a member of the Republican caucus who has talked about Jewish space lasers and... elevated her to some of the highest committee assignments of this body," Ocasio-Cortez went on, referencing a conspiracy theory by Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

Greene was appointed to the Oversight and Homeland Security committees last month after being removed from committee assignments by the previous Democratic-controlled House for extremist and racist comments. 

Omar took to Twitter to comment on the vote, writing, "My critique of our foreign policy, Israeli's policy towards Palestinians or that of any foreign nation will not change."

"As a person who suffered the horrors of war and persecution, my advocacy will always be for those that suffer because of the actions of governments," she added.

Omar also retweeted John Yarmouth, a former congressman from Kentucky, who wrote in support of her.

"I served with Ilhan Omar and spoke to her about her attitude about Jews and Israel," Yarmouth said. "As a Jew, I'm convinced she is not anti-Semitic."

Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, a ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also issued a statement defending Omar and criticizing Republicans, saying the vote was not reflective of Omar herself, but of "the hypocrisy of Republican leadership, which has used its power to exact revenge on their political opponents and, in the case of Omar, punish a member to satisfy the extreme MAGA wing of their party."

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