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US Republicans seek to oust Ilhan Omar from panel over comments on Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar outside the Capitol on January, 26, 2023

Newly empowered Republicans in the US House of Representatives are leading a campaign to oust Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from the chamber’s Foreign Affairs Committee over her past comments critical of Israel.

On Wednesday, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives voted 218-209 along party lines to move forward with a resolution to remove Omar from the committee. Democrats opposed the move, accusing Speaker Kevin McCarthy of bigotry for targeting Omar, who is a Somali-born Muslim lawmaker.

A final vote is expected later this week as progressives rally around Omar.

“This is about vengeance. This is about spite. This is about politics,” said James McGovern of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the Rules Committee, as Republicans called a hurried meeting late on Tuesday to consider the matter.

The resolution against Omar was proposed by Max Miller of Ohio, a former Trump administration official. It says, “Omar’s comments have brought dishonor to the House of Representatives,” referring to the congresswoman’s criticism of Israel and US foreign policy.

“Congresswoman Omar clearly cannot be an objective decision-maker on the Foreign Affairs Committee given her biases against Israel and against the Jewish people,” Miller said in a statement.

Omar fired back in a tweet saying, “There is nothing objectively true in this resolution. It’s all perceived and filled with pretext.”

There is nothing objectively true in this resolution. It’s all perceived and filled with pretext.

Also, if not being objective is a reason to not serve on committees, no one would be on committees. We vote our districts.

This censorship really underscores their true intentions.

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 31, 2023

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairperson Pramila Jayapal said in a statement on Monday, “You cannot remove a Member of Congress from a committee simply because you do not agree with their views. This is both ludicrous and dangerous.”

Omar has called McCarthy’s effort to remove her from the committee against initial opposition from his own caucus “pathetic.” In an interview with CNN, she said the move against her was “politically motivated.”

“It’s motivated by the fact that many of these members don’t believe a Muslim, a refugee, an African should even be in Congress, let alone have the opportunity to serve on the foreign affairs committee,” she said.

The 37-year-old US citizen and lawmaker represents Minneapolis, Minnesota, a district with a large Somali population. She was one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, both elected in 2018, and was the first to wear a hijab on the House floor.

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the committee chairman, argued against Omar’s inclusion on the committee, saying her view of Israel was diametrically opposed to the committee’s and having her on the committee “creates dysfunction.”

Last month, Sarah Margon, President Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, withdrew her candidacy as she faced intense scrutiny from a Republican senator who refused to agree to her nomination due to her statements on Israel.

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