Saturday May 11, 2019
BY TAL AXELROD
Vice President Pence renewed his calls on Friday for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to be removed from her post on the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her comments about Israel and Venezuela.
“Ilhan Omar has made statements, anti-Semitic comments against our most cherished ally, Israel, that ought to be rejected by every American," Pence said in an interview on Fox News.
"And frankly the fact that very recently, she’s been trying to blame the United States of America for the deprivation and the poverty brought on by the dictatorship in Venezuela tells me … Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has no place on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Democratic leadership ought to remove her,” he added.
The freshman lawmaker has been a frequent target of Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Omar first sparked criticism earlier this year for making statements some viewed as being anti-Semitic in nature. In since-deleted tweets, she suggested that U.S. support for Israel was the result of funds from pro-Israel lobbying groups and wrote that such donations pushed “for allegiance to a foreign country.”
Critics widely condemned Omar's remarks, saying they played on anti-Semitic tropes. The congresswoman later apologized for the comments, which prompted the House to pass a sweeping anti-hate measure.
“Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress, much less the Foreign Affairs Committee,” Pence said in February. “Those who engage in anti-Semitic tropes should not just be denounced, they should face consequences for their words.”
Omar again drew Republicans' criticism when she partly blamed U.S. policies for the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela earlier this month.
“A lot of the policies that we have put in place has kind of helped lead the devastation in Venezuela,” the Minnesota Democrat told the "Democracy Now!" news program. “This particular bullying and the use of sanctions to eventually intervene and make regime change really does not help the people of countries like Venezuela, and it certainly does not help and is not in the interest of the United States.”
The administration has ramped up sanctions against associates and interests of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro during his protracted leadership dispute with opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. and other countries recognize as Venezuela’s rightful interim president.
The country is currently undergoing a severe food and medicine shortage as Venezuela’s economy continues to crumble.
“As Venezuelans take to the streets to stand for their freedom against an oppressive dictator, Democrat Congresswoman @IlhanMN chooses socialism over freedom,” Pence tweeted shortly after. “The Trump Administration stands with the freedom-loving people of Venezuela.”
The Hill has reached out to Omar's office for comment.