Washington — The House is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution to remove Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee over past comments about Israel, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy set to deliver on a pledge to oust her from the panel now that Republicans are in power.
House Republicans want to make sure the Minnesota Democrat doesn’t have a seat on the influential foreign policy panel, citing past tweets and comments she made that invoked antisemitic tropes. The resolution to remove her from her seat on the committee cites Omar’s criticism of pro-Israel politicians as “all about the Benjamins,” and comments comparing the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban, comments which drew criticism from fellow Democrats as well as Republicans.
Republicans have pledged to take action against Omar and other Democrats since 2021, when Democrats controlled the House and voted to strip far-right GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar from their committee assignments over their own controversial comments. McCarthy gave both members committee spots after he became speaker.
McCarthy said Wednesday that Republicans have the votes to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs panel. Several GOP holdouts who previously expressed concerns about due process have come around to support the resolution, which now includes a provision establishing an appeals process. Republicans hold a slim majority in the House, leaving little room for defections.
The speaker said there are “many committees” Omar can serve on, but the Foreign Affairs Committee, with all the classified information it entails, isn’t one of them.
“I’m not saying she can’t have committees,” McCarthy said. “But to sit on Foreign Affairs, I worry about … what the rest of the world looks at, every single word that is said there. I’m worried about predetermining what she believes in that situation. She admitted herself, she didn’t even know referring to financial money, dollars, was a trope for those who happen to be Jewish.”
Asked about her past comments on CNN on Sunday, Omar said she didn’t realize at the time they were “trafficking in antisemitism” and called the McCarthy effort to remove her from the committee “politically motivated.”
“Yes, I might have used words at the time that I didn’t understand were trafficking in antisemitism,” Omar said Sunday. “When that was brought to my attention, I apologized. I owned up to it. That’s the kind of person that I am. And I continue to work with my colleagues and my community to fight against antisemitism.”
Last month, McCarthy also blocked Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, which he could do unilaterally, since the Intelligence panel is a select committee. Removing Omar requires a full House vote.