House to vote on resolution removing Omar from panel

The House is set to vote on a resolution to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, marking the culmination of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) longtime effort to oust the congresswoman from the panel as punishment for making antisemitic comments.

McCarthy’s announcement of a Thursday vote came shortly after the House approved, by unanimous consent, Democratic assignments for the Foreign Affairs Committee — officially installing Omar on the panel and setting up a floor battle with McCarthy and House GOP leadership.

“Oh, so now we can vote her off,” McCarthy told reporters after learning that the House approved the assignments. Thursday’s schedule released by House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) confirmed that the vote will take place.

The Speaker was confident that the resolution would pass.

“We’ll have enough votes even though there’s some members who are out, unfortunately, because of family,” he said on Wednesday.

GOP leaders have been working to ready themselves for a successful vote against Omar all week.

On Tuesday, controversial freshman Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) announced he would leave his two committee posts. Santos is facing questions over his campaign and personal finances and fabrications over his background. Republicans had seen him as a distraction in any vote to remove Omar from her panel.

McCarthy made his announcement after Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who announced his opposition to the resolution last week, revealed that he would support the resolution when it comes to the floor — becoming the second GOP holdout to change their stance. He told reporters that he flipped to the “yes” column after a Wednesday morning phone call with McCarthy, who suggested he was willing to reform the process for kicking members off committees.

Buck joined Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), who announced on Tuesday that she would vote for the measure days after initially issuing a blistering statement against it. Spartz said her stance pivoted after McCarthy agreed to “add due process language” to the resolution.

The measure 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, have said the terms do not formally create such a process because the language is under the “whereas” section and not the “resolved” section.

McCarthy on Wednesday offered details about his conversations with both Buck and Spartz.

“What I told him, and I had this conversation with Victoria too, we want due process. That we would work on process. I don’t know exactly what it’s like. … Just don’t want to pull something out of thin, out of my head. I actually want to work with the Democrats on it too because I think it’s healthy for the institution,” he said.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), however, remains opposed to the resolution. The congresswoman has said she does not support “cancel culture” or silencing opinions she does not agree with.

If Democrats are united in opposing the resolution, Republicans can afford to lose only four votes and still clear the measure. McCarthy on Wednesday would not say that Republicans will be united in support of the measure.

“I’m not gonna say 100 percent, but it could be,” he said when asked if all Republicans will vote to boot Omar from the Foreign Affairs panel.

Some Republicans have not yet said how they plan to vote.

House Republicans advanced the Omar resolution in a party-line 218-209 vote on Wednesday, sending the measure to the floor for debate and a final vote.

McCarthy in 2021 vowed to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs panel should Republicans take control of the House. He doubled down on that pledge after winning the Speaker’s gavel last month.

Omar, a Somali refugee, has made comments critical of the Israeli government and its supporters in the past, some of which have been accused of being antisemitic. She has especially spoken out on matters involving Palestinian rights.

Some Democrats, however, see the effort to oust Omar as political revenge for when the Democratic-controlled House voted in 2021 to strip Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) of their committee assignments after they promoted violence against Democrats online.

McCarthy also vowed to block Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee, a pledge he followed through with last week. As Speaker, McCarthy had the unilateral ability to block the appointments of Schiff and Swalwell to the Intelligence Committee.

But to kick Omar off of the Foreign Affairs panel, a majority of the House must agree.

This story was updated at 10:43 a.m.

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