House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is following through on his promise to target Ilhan Omar’s position on the Foreign Affairs Committee when the Republican-led House ended Thursday with a 218-211 vote in favor of ousting Omar.
McCarthy—the unloved Republican Rep. from Bakersfield whose own party posted billboards in his hometown in an effort to remove the hapless pol from the House, and who barely got elected Speaker over the course of multiple votes—previously exiled fellow Californians Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee in January.
Though McCarthy has justified Omar’s ousting by accusing her of anti-semitism and anti-Americanism, the collective targeting of Omar, Schiff and Swalwell has long been called a symptom of partisan vengeance following democrats’ similar actions towards Marjorie Taylore Greene and Paul Gosar.
Last year, I promised that when I became Speaker, I would remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee based on her repeated anti-semitic and anti-American remarks.
I'm keeping that promise. pic.twitter.com/04blBx3neD
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) November 19, 2022
Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries echoed these accusations of political tit-for-tatting on Thursday, calling the vote an act of political revenge, not accountability. As debate grew heated, others explored the possibility of even darker motives with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling the decision a “disgusting” addition to the legacy of post 9/11 racism towards Muslims and Muslim-Americans, as reported by ABC. “This is about targeting women of color,” Ocasio-Cortez went on. Omar herself called the decision to target her a response to her efforts to challenge the status quo and push against power. “My voice will get louder and stronger, and my leadership will be celebrated around the world,” Omar said in her closing speech.
Speaking with reporters, McCarthy denounced Omar again. “She said on 9/11 as a member of Congress, as an individual sitting on Foreign Affairs, something happened that day,” he said. “What does that say to other people around the world? What does that say to somebody else who wants to create another 9/11 America… She can serve on other committees. It puts America in jeopardy and I’m not going to do that on my watch.”
Ilhan Omar's past statements make it clear she is unfit to represent the U.S. on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
– She repeatedly used anti-semitic tropes
– She described 9/11 by saying "some people did something"
– She compared America and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban pic.twitter.com/VnDIVtw5oV
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) February 2, 2023
In response to the decision to oust Omar, Democrats are already fighting back with Hakeem Jeffires immediately responding with his intentions to put Omar on the House Budget Committee. “Where she will defend Democratic values against right-wing extremism,” Jeffries noted.
The highly partisan vote to remove @Ilhan was not about accountability.
It was about political revenge.
I will move immediately to seat Rep. Omar on the House Budget Committee.
Where she will defend Democratic values against right-wing extremism.
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) February 2, 2023
Though McCarthy was successful in his long-fought battle against Omar, in an interview with CNN on the Tuesday preceding the vote, he admitted to facing resistance from some Republicans. Victoria Spartz of Indiana was one holdout in the days leading up to the vote, opposing the effort to remove Omar, Swalwell, and Schiff. However, McCarthy was able to convert Spartz after addressing due process concerns. “I appreciate Speaker McCarthy’s willingness to address legitimate concerns and add due process language to our resolution. Deliberation and debate are vital for our institution, not top-down approaches,” Spartz said in a statement.
Other Republicans who had opposed McCarthy’s efforts include Ken Buck (Colorado) and Nancy Mace (South Carolina), with Buck announcing his intention to oppose the removal in an interview with Meet the Press, saying, “I think that we should not engage in this tit for tat. I am opposed to the selection–or the removal–of Congresswoman Omar from committees.” He went on to express uncertainty about McCarthy’s moves against Schiff and Swalwell.
On Thursday, however, both Buck and Mace ultimately voted in support of removing Omar.
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