Monday January 30, 2023
BY JULIA MUELLER
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at a press conference on committee assignments for the 118th U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 25, 2023, in Washington, D.C. KEVIN DIETSCH/GETTY IMAGES
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on Sunday said some Republicans are “OK with Islamophobia” in response to questions about efforts by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to block her from continuing to sit on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“You remember Donald Trump coming into my state and saying, ‘Muslims, Somali refugees are infiltrating our country.’ You remember [Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene [R-Ga.] coming to Congress after [Rep.] Rashida [Tlaib (D-Mich.)] and I got sworn in and saying, ‘Muslims are infiltrating Congress.’ You remember [Rep. Lauren] Boebert [R-Colo.] saying that I was a terrorist. What did McCarthy do? He said, ‘She apologized, and we don’t have to worry about her Islamophobia. That never happened,'” Omar said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“And so these people are OK with Islamophobia. They’re OK with trafficking in their own ways in antisemitism. They are not OK with having a Muslim have a voice on that committee,” Omar said.
McCarthy targeted Omar, the first Somali American and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, for removal from Foreign Affairs. He also booted Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee.
Omar’s removal requires a vote by the entire chamber, while Swalwell’s and Schiff’s removals could be made by McCarthy alone due to rules around the Intelligence Committee.
“If they want to debate political differences, and that’s something that we should all have the opportunity to do so, but to smear someone and their character, their love for their country and the work that they get to do on a committee is wrong,” Omar said.
“And it is politically motivated. And, in some cases, 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.”
Omar has been accused of making antisemitic comments relating to American support of Israel. She has since apologized for the remarks and said on Sunday that “I might have used words at the time that I didn’t understand were trafficking in antisemitism.”
“To insinuate that I knowingly said these things, when people have read into my comments to make it sound as if I have something against the Jewish community, is so wrong. … I voted for every single resolution — no Republican can say that — condemning antisemitism. My work is clear,” Omar said.
Democrats have rallied around Omar, Swalwell and Schiff.
McCarthy formally blocked Schiff and Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee earlier this week, but the Speaker will need a House vote for approval of his Foreign Affairs committee plans. Some Republicans have stepped out to say they oppose ousting Omar.
Omar said Sunday that she hopes the GOP lawmakers who’ve said they’ll support her will keep their word when it comes to a vote.