Hakeem Jeffries Blasts Vote To Remove Rep. Ilhan Omar From Foreign Affairs Committee
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries condemned GOP leaders Thursday (Feb. 2) for applying a double standard in their ouster of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee earlier that day.
In a 218-211 party-line vote, Republicans removed Omar from the committee. They pointed to her past antisemitic comments, which she apologized for at that time. But Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat, noted the GOP has ignored the antisemitic remarks of Republican lawmakers.
Jeffries also accused Republicans of taking revenge on Democrats, when they were in power, for removing GOP lawmakers from committees for promoting violence against prominent Democrats.
In 2019, Omar, part of the four-member “squad” of progressive House lawmakers, which includes New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, ignited a firestorm when she tweeted that lawmaker support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins, baby,” a reference to $100 bills.
The freshman lawmaker’s comment brought swift condemnation from Democratic leadership who said the comment suggests that Israel’s American political allies were motivated by money, The Washington Post reported at that time.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was the House Speaker then, released a joint statement with other House party leaders calling Omar’s “use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters” deeply offensive and insisted on an apology.
Omar “unequivocally” apologized, saying she didn’t intend to offend “my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole.”
Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Jeffries said Omar acknowledged her offense and apologized nearly four years ago.
“There has been accountability. Ilhan Omar has apologized; she has indicated that she’ll learn from her mistakes. So this is not about accountability, it’s about political revenge,” Jeffries said, according to The Hill.
Jeffries noted that the GOP failed to condemn fellow Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky for similar antisemitic remarks in 2021.
That episode involved Massie firing back at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a major pro-Israel lobby group, for criticizing his opposition to a resolution condemning a rocket attack on Israel. “How is THIS not foreign interference in our elections?” Massie tweeted.
“That’s not an antisemitic trope? That’s not playing into dangerous stereotypes about the Jewish community here in America, suggesting that they have dual loyalty? AIPAC is engaging in foreign interference? AIPAC is an American-based organization,” Jeffries said, according to The Hill.
He continued: “To this day not a single House Republican leader has said a word — a word — about Thomas Massie. But he’s been rewarded with a seat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee.”
In January 2022, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, then the Minority Leader, vowed to remove three Democrats, including Omar, from their committee assignments if he became the speaker.
He told conservative outlet Breitbart News that Pelosi set a “new standard” of ousting lawmakers from committees when the Democrats kicked GOP Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia off their committees over their violent social media posts.
Social media posts surfaced in 2021 of Greene repeatedly supporting the execution of prominent Democratic politicians in 2018 and 2019 before she was elected to Congress. Gosar sparked uproar when it was revealed that he shared an altered, animated video depicting him killing Ocasio-Cortez and swinging two swords at President Joe Biden.
“The line should be drawn when there are members of Congress who are actively threatening violence against colleagues … violence that we should actually take seriously in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 violent insurrection,” Jeffries said, according to The Hill.