House GOP votes to remove Democrat Ilhan Omar from a significant committee
House GOP votes to remove Democrat Ilhan Omar from a significant committee

Washington: After a contentious debate, the Republican-led House decided to remove Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the committee's Foreign Affairs section due to her anti-Israel remarks.usa

This is a dramatic reaction to Democrats last session exiling far-right Republican lawmakers for offensive remarks.

Despite some GOP lawmakers' reservations, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was able to secure Republican support in the new Congress against the Somali-born Muslim woman. Up until the Democratic ousters of hard-right Republican Reps.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona two years ago, the removal of lawmakers from House committees was essentially unheard of.

After a contentious, boisterous debate in which Democrats claimed that the GOP was targeting Omar because of her race, the vote, 218-211, was cast along party lines. On the House floor, Omar spoke out in defence of herself, asking if anyone was surprised that she was the target because "power pushes back when you push it." During the vote, she was embraced and hugged by Democratic party members.

Omar concluded his speech by saying, "My voice will grow louder and stronger, and my leadership will be praised all over the world. Rep. Michael Guest of Mississippi, the incoming chairman of the House Ethics Committee, said that Republicans focused on six statements Omar has made that "under the totality of the circumstances, disqualify her from serving on the Committee of Foreign Affairs."

Due to the international sensitivity and national security issues under the jurisdiction of this committee, all members, Republicans and Democrats alike, should be held to the highest standards of conduct, Guest said. Omar's remarks have brought dishonour to the House of Representatives, according to the resolution put forth by Rep. Max Miller, a former official in the Trump administration from Ohio.

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Omar has occasionally "made mistakes," according to Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and used antisemitic cliches that were denounced by House Democrats four years ago. But, he claimed, that was not the topic of the vote on Thursday. 

It's about political vengeance, not accountability, according to Jeffries.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went even further, claiming that the GOP's move was a continuation of the GOP's "targeting and racism against Muslim-Americans throughout the United States of America" that she called one of the "disgusting legacies after 9/11."

"This is about targeting women of colour," she continued. McCarthy refuted claims that the Republican move to remove Omar was a payback for the removals of Greene and Gosar by Democrats, despite having warned in late 2021 that such a reaction might be anticipated if Republicans regained control of the House.

The previous Congress is not like this one, he declared on Thursday. Omar can continue serving on other panels, he pointed out, but not Foreign Affairs in light of her anti-Israel remarks. One of only two Muslim women elected to Congress is Omar. She is also the first person to wear a hijab in the House chamber since the floor rules were modified to permit members to cover their heads out of respect for their religion.

After being elected to Congress in 2019, she quickly stirred up controversy with a pair of tweets that implied lawmakers who supported Israel were driven by monetary gain. She lambasted the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, in the first. She wrote: "It's all about the Benjamins baby," using slang for $100 bills.

Omar replied "AIPAC" when asked on Twitter who she believed was paying members of Congress to support Israel. The remarks prompted a public rebuke from other Democrats and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who made it clear that Omar had overstepped.
She quickly apologised.

Omar tweeted, "We must always be willing to take a step back and consider criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others criticise my identity. "I hereby express my sincere apologies" Democrats came together in a ferocious defence of Omar and the qualifications she offers the Congress. Progressive, black, and Latino lawmakers in particular praised her for being a distinctive voice in the House and blasted Republicans for what they claimed was a racist attack.

Rep. Cori Bush, D-Missouri, described it as "racist gaslighting." Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the leader of the progressive caucus, referred to it as a "revenge resolution." Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, who joined Congress in 2019 alongside Omar as the first two female Muslims elected to the House, said, "It's so painful to watch."

Tlaib apologised to Congresswoman Omar by saying, "I am so sorry that our country is failing you today through this chamber." You ought to be on that committee. A number of remarks, including Omar's earlier remarks, were cited in the resolutions calling for her dismissal from the Foreign Affairs Committee.

In a recent closed-door meeting with fellow Republicans, the committee's chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, argued for excluding Omar from the panel. McCaul explained his position to reporters by saying, "It's just that her worldview of Israel is so diametrically opposed to the committee's." Although I don't mind people having different opinions, this goes beyond that.

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McCarthy has already prevented California Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from re-joining the House Intelligence Committee since the Republicans took over the chamber in January. While the speaker has the authority to appoint members to the intelligence panel, the House must vote to take action regarding Omar.

Republicans who were opposed to expelling Omar demanded "due process" for lawmakers who might be expelled. Although he acknowledged it's still a work in progress, McCarthy claimed he promised to collaborate with Democrats on developing a due process system.

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