House votes to remove Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs Committee despite heartfelt ‘I am an American’ speech
House Republicans voted to oust Rep Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, despite a heartfelt speech from the congresswoman.
Shortly before the vote, Ms Omar delivered a heartfelt speech on how her American identity was informed by her wartorn childhood.
“I am an American, an American who was sent here by her constituents to represent them in Congress. A refugee who survived the horrors of a civil war. Someone who spent her childhood in a refugee camp,” she said. “Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy or that they see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silence.”
Republicans have sought to remove Ms Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over past comments that they have interpreted as antisemitic. In 2019, she tweeted that Republicans wanted to condemn her comments about Israel because “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” a reference to Benjamin Franklin being on $100 bills.
Ms Omar later apologised for her remarks.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had already removed Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell of California from the House Intelligence Committee.
The Speaker has the discretion to remove members of Intelligence Committee and supposedly removed Mr Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, in retaliation for Mr Schiff’s words during the investigation into ties between former president Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
Mr McCarthy also removed Mr Swalwell after Axios reported that a Chinese spy attempted to cultivate a relationship with the congressman over a number of years, even though Mr Swalwell reportedly committed no wrongdoing.
But the vote on Rep Omar comes after House Democrats had voted to remove Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona from their committees last year. All Democrats and 11 Republicans voted to remove Ms Greene for her history of racist, antisemitic and conspiratorial comments before her election to Congress in 2020.
“It wasn’t my decision to have the vote but, you know she voted to remove Republicans from committees, so you reap what you sow,” Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado told The Independent.
But some Democrats, including many Jewish Democrats such as Mr Schiff, Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota defended Ms Omar.
Representative Ruben Gallego told The Independent it was a testament to Mr McCarthy’s weak leadership.
“That it’s got no leadership, no spine to stand up to his own people and he’s just basically targeting Black women for political gain,” he said
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