Ilhan Omar Likely To Be Removed From House Foreign Affairs Committee In What Democrats Call A Revenge Move


The House is likely to vote this week to oust Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Affairs Committee, in what Republicans say is a response to comments she made about Israel—but Democrats have called the move retribution for ejecting two GOP members from committees during the previous session of Congress.

Key Facts

The House could vote as early as Thursday on a resolution to remove Omar, a move that would make good on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) year-old promise to eject her and two other Democrats from their committees if elected speaker.

The resolution cites comments Omar made in the past that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle viewed as antisemitic and anti-Israel, including a tweet claiming Israel’s relationship with the U.S. is “all about the Benjamins.”

Democrats, however, claim the move is retribution for the House’s decision under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to eject Republican Reps. Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) from their committees over their partiality for incendiary rhetoric.

Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said GOP leaders secured the votes to reach the 218 majority threshold required to pass the resolution after flipping at least one of the four Republicans who expressed opposition or uncertainty in recent weeks that, along with absences of several GOP members, threatened to derail the effort, Axios reported Wednesday.

Chief Critic

Republican Reps. Victoria Spartz (Ind.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Nancy Mace (S.C.) and Matt Gaetz (Fla.) suggested they could vote against the resolution to oust Omar, citing concerns that it would carry on a new precedent set by the previous Congress—which was narrowly controlled by Democrats—to eject members across party lines. Previously, decisions to remove committee members were made by party-specific steering committees. Spartz, however, announced Tuesday that she would support the measure after the text of the resolution was unveiled and included a provision that allows Omar to appeal the decision to the House Ethics Committee.

Key Background

McCarthy vowed in January last year to remove Omar, along with Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both of California, from their committee assignments if elected speaker, citing the Democratic-controlled House’s decision to remove Gosar and Greene. The House voted to remove Gosar from the Oversight and Reform and Natural Resources Committees in November 2021 after he posted a cartoon video that appeared to depict him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and President Joe Biden. In February that year, the House removed Greene from the Budget and Education and Labor Committees, citing social media activity in which she appeared to embrace QAnon conspiracy theories, questioned the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and suggested the 2018 Parkland school shooting was staged. McCarthy successfully denied Schiff and Swalwell, two key players in former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trials, seats on the House Intelligence Committee last month, citing behavior he said undermined “its primary national security and oversight missions.” The resolution to remove Omar cites her 2019 tweet that suggested the U.S.-Israel relationship is “all about the Benjamins,” or in other words, motivated by money. The tweet was widely condemned among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as antisemitic, and Omar later apologized.

Surprising Fact

Removing Omar requires a vote from the majority of the House, which is currently split 222-213 in Republicans’ favor, since the House Foreign Affairs Committee is a standing (or permanent) committee in Congress.

Crucial Quote

“McCarthy’s effort to repeatedly single me out for scorn and hatred—including threatening to strip me from my committee—does nothing to address the issues our constituents deal with,” Omar said in a statement in November that suggested the move was tied to her Muslim religion and Somali heritage. “What it does is gin up fear and hate against Somali-Americans and anyone who shared my identity.”

Further Reading

House Ousts Marjorie Taylor Greene From Committees With Eleven GOP Votes (Forbes)

GOP Reps. Greene And Gosar Reassigned To House Committees After Previous Congress Voted To Remove Them (Forbes)

McCarthy Blocks Schiff And Swalwell From Taking Intel Committee Seats (Forbes)