Republicans boot Rep. Ilhan Omar from House foreign affairs committee over Israel criticism

“They see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced,” Omar declared to a standing ovation from Democratic colleagues. “But I came to Congress to speak out.”

Rep. Omar ousted by republicans to serve on House Foreign Affairs committee on Capitol Hill
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., walks to her office on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, after being ousted by the Republican-lead House of Representatives to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Tom Brenner / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans Thursday voted along party lines to oust Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from her seat on the foreign affairs committee over her harsh criticism of Israel, which they call antisemitic.

The vote was 218 to 211, with one Republican voting present.

The GOP cited the trailblazing Muslim lawmaker’s remarks denouncing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands as “apartheid” and trashing the pro-Israel lobby for buying support of lawmakers. Rep. Max Miller, R-Ohio, said Omar was not fit to sit on the committee because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has barred her from entering the country.

“We cannot let the poisonous ideology of antisemitism permeate into policy decisions that impact millions of Jews worldwide,” said Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y. “Words matter. Rhetoric matters.”

Declaring “I am an American,” Omar countered that she has every right to speak out as a refugee and Muslim immigrant from war-torn Somalia.


“They see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced,” Omar declared to a standing ovation from Democratic colleagues. “But I came to Congress to speak out.”

Omar stands by her criticism of Israel. But she has apologized for comments that many considered antisemitic, like when she said the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was “all about the Benjamins” in spending big bucks to build support for the Jewish state.

Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., denounced Omar’s past missteps, but said she has a unique background as the only African-born woman ever to serve in Congress.

“Her perspective is invaluable to this committee,” Meeks declared in a fiery speech.

Many on both sides of the aisle consider the move to be an act of retaliation for Democratic votes to oust Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., from committees in the last Congress. Both right wingers were accused of making violent threats against progressive colleagues like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

“I had a member of the Republican caucus threaten my life and you rewarded him,” Ocasio-Cortez said angrily, referring to Gosar.

The anti-Omar vote marked a notable win for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as he seeks to consolidate his power after barely winning the speaker’s gavel in a marathon vote session last month. With Democrats voting in lockstep against the measure, the GOP leader needed to keep virtually all of his Republicans in line.

McCarthy had already blocked liberals Rep. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both California Democrats, from serving on the intelligence committee, a move he can make unilaterally.


©2023 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What To Read Next
Get Local