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US House votes to remove Omar from Foreign Affairs Committee

Hunter Woodall, Star Tribune on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Republicans wielded their power Thursday to oust Rep. Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, seizing on past controversies over comments made by the Minnesota Democrat as reasons to stop her from returning to the prized slot.

She lost the post in a 218-211 vote after a contentious floor debate.

"My leadership and voice will not be diminished if I am not on this committee for one term," Omar said on the House floor before the vote. "My voice will get louder and stronger."

Republicans have long targeted Omar, a Muslim and refugee who made history when she became the first Somali-American elected to Congress.

"Representative Omar has espoused antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric time and again," Rep. Max Miller, a Jewish Republican from Ohio said during the debate. "She cannot be an objective contributor to the work of the committee, and she has brought dishonor to the House of Representatives."

After first winning her seat in 2018, Omar spent two terms on the foreign affairs panel as Democrats controlled the chamber. Some of her statements brought bipartisan backlash. She apologized early in her first term for a tweet viewed as antisemitic and also for a 2012 tweet that said, "Israel has hypnotized the world." A 2019 comment about Israel in which Omar said, "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country," also was strongly criticized.


She faced further bipartisan criticism in 2021 over a tweet concerning a committee hearing that said "we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban. I asked @SecBlinken where people are supposed to go for justice." She tried to clarify the post, saying in a statement that she "was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems."

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy vowed to remove Omar from the foreign affairs panel and tweeted after the November midterms that he would do so because of "her repeated anti-semitic and anti-American remarks."

No Democrats voted to oust Omar. But in defending her, some didn't hesitate to point out the impact of her words.

"Representative Omar and I regularly disagree on policy both domestic and foreign," Minnesota Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, who is Jewish and served with Omar on the foreign affairs committee, said during the debate. "And she has at times used words that have caused concern, offense and even personal pain to me and others. She and I have spoken face to face on those occasions, and she has apologized and she continues to learn from those missteps."


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