Ilhan Omar pushes back on House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy's vow to strip her of committee

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar criticized House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy Tuesday for vowing to strip the Democrat of her committee assignments if he's elected House speaker by the new Congress.

In his effort to secure GOP support for the top House leadership role, McCarthy has promised to remove Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee as well as Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., from the House Intelligence Committee.

McCarthy, along with several other Republican lawmakers, have said for months the three Democrats should be removed from their committee because of past statements regarding Israel, China and Russia.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks during a march in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 21, 2021

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Omar pushed back, responding to the GOP leader's comments Monday in a statement released on Twitter.

"McCarthy's effort to repeatedly single me out for scorn and hatred – including threatening to strip me from my committee – does nothing to address the issues our constituents deal with," the statement said. "It does nothing to address inflation, healthcare, or solve the climate crisis."

The Minnesota Democrat also accused McCarthy of amplifying hateful and dangerous rhetoric targeting minorities by GOP lawmakers, specifically naming Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Tom Emmer of Minnesota.

Emmer previously faced accusations of anti-Semitism for a 2019 fundraising letter that claimed Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and George Soros "essentially bought control of Congress."

Omar, a progressive, has often been a target of Greene and other hard-right conservatives, including Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert. Both lawmakers have referred to Omar, among the first Muslim lawmakers in Congress, as a member of the "Jihad Squad" and peddled other anti-Muslim rhetoric aimed at Omar.

"At the same time, they have openly tolerated antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate and racism in their own party," Omar said in her statement.

Omar has drawn criticism from Democrats and Republicans over comments she's made about Israel. In 2019, she brought on a backlash over tweets accusing Israel of having "hypnotized the world" and another criticizing the influence of pro-Israel lobbying groups. She later apologized. Last year, about a dozen House Democrats accused her of equating the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban on Twitter. Omar defended herself, saying she was not drawing a moral equivalency.

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Some Democrats accuse McCarthy of going after the three Democratic lawmakers as a way to court the far-right caucus of his party in order to gain enough votes to be elected speaker, according to some Democrats.

"I suspect he will do whatever Marjorie Taylor Greene wants him to do," Schiff said on ABC's "This Week." "He is a very weak leader of his conference, meaning that he will adhere to the wishes of the lowest common denominator. And if that lowest common denominator wants to remove people from committees, that’s what they’ll do."

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks to members of the press on Nov. 15, 2022.

McCarthy also has vowed to reinstate both Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., to committees if elected speaker after the new Congress is sworn in – even suggesting the lawmakers may receive "better" assignments.

Such a step would require a majority of the House to approve. Republicans will have control when a new Congress is sworn in Jan. 3 but only by a few seats.

In an unprecedented move, House Democrats along with 11 Republicans voted last year to strip Greene of her committee assignments because of violent rhetoric and promotion of conspiracy theories through a stream of past inflammatory social media posts.

Gosar, one of the GOP's far-right members, was censured late last year after the lawmaker posted an anime video on Twitter, which was edited to show him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and attacking President Joe Biden. Gosar was also removed from his committees by the Democratic-led House.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rep. Ilhan Omar hits back as McCarthy vows to strip her of committee