Democrats decry hypocrisy after Republicans oust Ilhan Omar from House committee

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee told theGrio that she was “appalled at the anti-Muslim sentiment this will generate [and] the danger that this will generate against [Omar].”  

Democrats are decrying “hypocrisy” after House Republicans voted on Thursday to oust U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for previously making comments considered antisemitic.

“Ilhan Omar has been held accountable, but this is not about accountability – it is about political revenge,” said House Minority Leader, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), during his weekly leader’s press conference.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is seen after the House voted to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, February 2, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

After the vote, Jeffries said he intends to appoint Omar to the House Budget Committee, “where she will defend Democratic values against right-wing extremism.”

Democratic reactions to the committee removal have been swift and heated. Just moments before the vote, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) condemned Republicans for displaying a double standard in a fiery speech on the House floor. 

“Don’t tell me that this is about a condemnation of antisemitic remarks when you have a member of the Republican caucus who has talked about Jewish space lasers — and an entire amount of tropes — and also elevated her to some of the highest committee assignments in this body,” Ocasio-Cortez said, referring to controversial Republican U.S. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. 

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez also accused GOP lawmakers of targeting Omar because of her religion, race and gender as a Black female Muslim. “There’s nothing consistent about the Republican Party’s continued attack, except for the racism and incitement of violence against women of color in this body!” the progressive lawmaker said emphatically.

In January, before the Congress was sworn in, Congressman Greg Meeks of New York, the then-outgoing chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was determined to work against the GOP’s mission to oust Omar.  

In a statement reacting to Thursday’s vote, Meeks said, “If the purpose of this vote is to punish a member for antisemitism, this resolution should not be aimed at a representative who has apologized and learned from her mistakes.”

In addition to calling out hypocrisy regarding Rep. Taylor Greene, Meeks said Republicans also failed to condemn Rep. Mary Miller for quoting Adolf Hitler in Congressional remarks and Rep. Paul Gosar for “inviting a Holocaust denier to the State of the Union.”

Rep. Gregory Meeks
Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., speaks during the America Competes Act event in the Rayburn Room in the Capitol on Friday, February 4, 2022. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images).

“This resolution should be condemning Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy himself for his November 6th tweet accusing three Jewish men of buying the election, an antisemitic dog whistle about Jewish money buying elections,” said Meeks. 

Rep. Omar was proud to be on the House Foreign Affairs Committee as the only African-born refugee serving in Congress. In an interview with theGrio last year, the congresswoman spoke  about her mission on the committee, particularly for Africans: “I try to raise the alarm that sometimes the tools that we use might not have an impact on our intended audience, but it will have an impact on others who don’t have a role in in our foreign policy and don’t have a role in what we are trying to prevent.”

Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott told theGrio of Omar, “As the only African-born and Muslim member on the Committee, her perspective and insight make her an invaluable asset to the Committee’s important work.”

U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who once served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also pointed out Omar’s unique presence on the committee and Africa, Global Health, and Global Human Rights Subcommittee. Jackson Lee told theGrio that she was “appalled at the anti-Muslim sentiment this will generate [and] the danger that this will generate against [Omar].”  

She lamented: ”I don’t know what has happened to the Republican leadership.”

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