WASHINGTON — Newly empowered House Republicans are preparing to oust an African-born Black lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, from the Foreign Affairs Committee over comments she has made critical of Israel — and as payback after Democrats booted far-right Republicans from panels for incendiary, violent remarks.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been eager to flex Republican power to remove the Minnesota Democrat after he blocked two other Democrats, Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell, from rejoining the House Intelligence Committee once the GOP took control of the chamber in the new Congress.
Votes could come as soon as Wednesday on the resolution against Omar, a Somali immigrant and Muslim lawmaker who has apologized for comments she has said she came to understand were viewed as antisemitic.
“This is about vengeance. This is about spite. This is about politics,” said Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the Rules Committee, as Republicans called a hurried meeting late Tuesday to consider the resolution.
McGovern argued that Democrats had removed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., for remarks that were far more extreme and violent against fellow lawmakers than those Omar had made and apologized for.
The resolution against Omar was proposed by Rep. Max Miller, R-Ohio, a former official in the Trump administration. It says that “Omar’s comments have brought dishonor to the House of Representatives” and she should be removed from the Foreign Affairs Committee.
McCarthy has strained to ensure he has enough support from his Republican ranks to oust Omar. Republicans command a slim majority and several GOP lawmakers have been reluctant to engage in tit-for-tat retribution against colleagues.
But GOP leaders moved ahead late Tuesday with the resolution against Omar after several holdouts signaled their support.
The action against Omar pushed ahead after embattled Republican Rep. George Santos announced earlier Tuesday he would be stepping aside from his own committee assignments as the House Ethics Committee investigates his actions. The New York Republican has acknowledged embellishments about his education, work experience and other aspects of his personal and professional life.
Several Republicans have been wary of taking action against Omar while they are also having to answer for the many questions emerging about Santos.
No vote has been set on the resolution against Omar, but it could come as soon as Wednesday, aides said. Republicans said they are waiting for Democrats to formally nominate Omar to the Foreign Affairs Committee, on which she served in the last Congress. Once the committee roster is approved by the whole House, the Republicans would move to strip her of the seat.
With his slim majority, McCarthy acknowledged at the start of the week that member absences were having an impact on his ability to schedule the vote.
Omar told CNN in an interview Sunday that the move against her is “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.