Speaker Kevin McCarthy is struggling to round up enough Republican votes to throw Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. off of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — and Democrats are cheering the holdouts on.
“I applaud those Republican members who have already rejected this idea and hope that more will join them to state their opposition so it is not brought to the floor, or vote against it should it be brought to the floor,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement to Semafor. Omar is a deputy chair of the CPC.
Rep. Ken Buck, R- Colo. became the latest Republican to publicly oppose removing Omar from her committee, and detailed his position during an interview with “Meet the Press” over the weekend. Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind. also previously opposed the idea last week, while Reps. Nancy Mace, R-S.C. and David Valadao, R-Calif. have said they are undecided. Mace told reporters she wasn’t going to be a hypocrite now that Republicans are in the majority after she opposed Democrats removing Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz from their committees last Congress.
Republicans have targeted Omar over comments she made in 2019 about Israel that were widely condemned as antisemitic. She subsequently apologized.
Jayapal contrasted Omar’s proposed treatment with that of Gosar and Greene, arguing their removal for threatening violence against colleagues (Gosar posted an animated video in which he murdered New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Greene discussed executing prominent Democrats on Facebook) was fundamentally different.
“You cannot remove a Member of Congress from a committee simply because you do not agree with their views,” she said. “This is both ludicrous and dangerous. In the last Congress, Republican members were moved from committees with a bipartisan vote for endangering the safety of their colleagues. Speaker McCarthy is attempting to take revenge and draw false comparisons.”
Rep. Greg Steube’s unexpected recent accident will keep the Florida Republican from voting indefinitely, which puts McCarthy’s plan in serious jeopardy given the razor thin margins between House Republicans and Democrats.
McCarthy promised to remove three Democrats from their committee assignments: Omar, as well as Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee. McCarthy rejected Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ appointments of Schiff and Swalwlell to the Intelligence Committee — the nature of the committee allows the speaker to approve appointments. But the House will have to vote to remove Omar.
So far Republicans haven’t announced when they plan to bring a vote to the floor to remove Omar. It’s a sign of the struggle McCarthy is facing with his slim majority, where even a small handful of members can derail leadership’s priorities.
Republicans don’t typically take advice from Jayapal and a progressive member highlighting the cracks in the conference could backfire. But Democrats have very little power in the minority and are eager to test McCarthy’s ability to keep his caucus in line, which could come into play on more critical votes further down the line.