House GOP advances resolution to remove Omar from Foreign Affairs panel

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)
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House Republicans advanced a resolution on Wednesday to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Affairs Committee, sending the measure to the floor for debate and bringing Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) one step closer to fulfilling a longtime pledge.

The House approved the rule, which allows the chamber to kick off debate on the measure, in a party-line 218-209 vote. The rule also pertained to a GOP-led resolution condemning socialism.

It remains unclear when House Republicans will bring the Omar resolution to the floor for debate and a final vote. Democrats still need to formally submit a separate resolution with their roster for the Foreign Affairs Committee, which will officially place Omar on the panel.

McCarthy had faced some trouble in locking down support, but House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) told reporters on Tuesday that Republican leadership has the votes to boot Omar from the panel.

GOP leadership notched a win Wednesday morning when Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told Politico that he would support the resolution, flipping from his previous opposition.

And on Wednesday night, Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) threw her support behind the resolution after initially opposing it. The congresswoman said the “due process language” added to the resolution helped move her from the “no” to the “yes” column.

The resolution released Tuesday night says “any Member reserves the right to bring a case before the Committee on Ethics as grounds for an appeal to the Speaker of the House for reconsideration of any committee removal decision.” Democrats, however, said the language did not formally create a process to do that because it was under the “whereas” section and not the “resolved” section.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), however, remains opposed to the effort, she told Politico. If Democrats are united in opposition, Republicans can only afford to lose four votes and still approve the resolution.

House Republicans are moving to oust Omar from her committee assignment as a rebuke for comments she has made that have been labeled antisemitic. The congresswoman — a Somali refugee, and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress — has been critical of the Israeli government and its supporters in the past, especially when it comes to matters related to Palestinian rights, which led to the allegations of antisemitism.

The resolution, introduced on Tuesday, includes a number of such comments.

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) listed several during debate on the rule Wednesday.

“Rep. Omar has a repeated history of making deplorable and despicable antisemitic remarks and does not deserve to sit on the committee directly overseeing U.S. international policy, partnerships and national security,” he said on the floor.

But the move is also seen by some as political revenge, after the House Democratic majority voted to strip Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) of their committee assignments in 2021 after they promoted violence against Democrats on social media.

“When it comes to Congresswoman Omar — a good congresswoman who fights hard for her district and for her values — this isn’t about punishing her for anything she said. It’s about scoring political points,” Rep. Jim McGovern (Mass.), the top Democrat on the Rules Committee, said on the House floor.

McCarthy vowed in 2021 that House Republicans would remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee should the GOP win control of the chamber. After winning the Speakership last month, he reiterated that pledge.

He also said he would block California Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, which he did unilaterally last week. Unlike the Foreign Affairs Committee, which requires a full vote by the chamber to remove a member, McCarthy as Speaker can reject appointments to the Intelligence panel.

Updated: 2:37 p.m.

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