Thursday January 26, 2023
By Hunter Woodall
It is unclear whether Republicans have the support they need to remove the Minnesota Democrat from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., with Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. Manuel Balce Ceneta/ AP
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar scorned Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Wednesday as the GOP attempt to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee approaches a critical point.
McCarthy, who narrowly won the speakership earlier this month, has long promised to keep Omar from one of her prized committee slots. He maintained that threat after Republicans won the House, citing in a tweet "her repeated anti-semitic and anti-American remarks."
Omar isn't alone in being targeted by McCarthy. The speaker followed through on another pledge when he tweeted Tuesday that he had rejected the attempt by Democrats to keep California Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell on the House Intelligence Committee.
At a news conference Wednesday alongside Schiff and Swalwell, Omar said McCarthy is seeking revenge and attempting to appease former President Donald Trump.
"Kevin McCarthy's purely partisan move to strip us from our committee is not only a political stunt, but also a blow to the integrity of our democratic institution and threat to our national security," Omar said.
But keeping Omar off the foreign affairs panel is a different logistical hurdle that is expected to require a full vote of the House.
"I do believe that when and if this vote comes, it will be a moment of clarity," Omar said. "And I hope that many of these Republicans will have conscience and will not prove to their constituents and the American people just how much of partisan hacks they are, how much hypocrisy that they have and show themselves to be a disgrace."
Omar also told reporters that she didn't know if a vote against her would succeed or fail at this point. She served on the Foreign Affairs Committee during her first two terms while Democrats controlled the House.
In 2021, Democrats held successful bipartisan floor votes to remove two far-right Republicans from committees.
The action was taken against Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene after Democrats pointed to her violent rhetoric and embrace of conspiracy theories. Months later, Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar lost committee assignments after an animated video of him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword was posted to his social media.
Both Greene and Gosar have received committee assignments now that Republicans are leading the House. Yet with narrow GOP control of the chamber, Republicans can spare only a small number of votes if they want to remove Omar from the foreign affairs panel. And some reluctance is already clear.
"Two wrongs do not make a right. Speaker Pelosi took unprecedented actions last Congress to remove Reps. Greene and Gosar from their committees without proper due process," Indiana Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz said in a statement. "Speaker McCarthy is taking unprecedented actions this Congress to deny some committee assignments to the Minority without proper due process again. As I spoke against it on the House floor two years ago, I will not support this charade again."
CBS News reported that South Carolina Republican Rep. Nancy Mace also has signaled potential opposition to taking the committee spot from Omar.
During a Wednesday news conference, GOP House Majority Leader Steve Scalise didn't directly answer a question about whether the GOP has the votes to bar Omar from the panel.
"We have no intention of having them serve on those committees," Scalise said after talking about the three targeted Democrats.
Democratic leaders have stuck with Omar and her California counterparts.
"The Democratic caucus stands with Representative Omar that she should serve on this committee," Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Pete Aguilar told reporters.