US Progressives reject Republican push against Ilhan Omar | News from politics

Washington, D.C. – When Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy mentioned the name of Muslim-American Congressman Ilhan Omar at a conference of the Republican-Jewish coalition over the weekend, boos erupted from the crowd.

“It’s a legitimate boo,” the congressman replied, before pledging to remove Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for her criticism of Israel.

The top Republican’s pledge has sparked an outcry from progressive and Muslim American supporters who say the attack on Omar was unjustified. Some also warned that this could be the tip of the iceberg in a campaign House Republicans are preparing against the Democrats if they take control of the Congressional Chamber in January.

“Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress should come together to reject this cynical political attack on Rep. Omar,” Robert McCaw, director of government affairs at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement.

“Members of Congress should not be silenced if they dare to speak out consistently against human rights violations, whether perpetrated by our nation’s opponents, by allies, or even by our own administration,” McCaw said Monday.

After Republicans won a narrow majority in the House of Representatives in this month’s midterm elections, McCarthy is likely to become Speaker of the House in the new Congress, which will meet on Jan. 3, 2023.

But even before entering the majority, top House Republicans said they would investigate the business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden — an issue Democrats believe is unfounded.

McCarthy also told Fox News Sunday that he will block Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from joining the Intelligence Committee.

‘Hypocritical’

But McCarthy’s attack on Omar, which follows years of incessant Republican criticism of the congresswoman, was particularly strong.

“Last year I promised that if I became Speaker, I would remove Representative Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for her repeated anti-Semitic and anti-American comments,” he wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “I keep that promise.”

CAIR’s McCaw described McCarthy’s pledge as “beyond hypocritical,” noting that he had said he would reinstate Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s committee duties. Greene was kicked out of congressional bodies last year for anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic remarks.

In a fierce statement Monday, Omar rebuked McCarthy, accusing Republicans of attacking her with “fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism” since she was elected in 2018.

“McCarthy’s efforts to repeatedly single me out for contempt and hatred — including threatening to remove me from my committee — do nothing to address the issues our constituents are grappling with. It does nothing to address inflation, healthcare or the climate crisis,” she said.

Omar is one of three Muslims in Congress and one of the few vocal supporters of Palestinian rights on Capitol Hill.

As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which helps push legislation and oversee members of the US Executive Branch, she was also a rare voice championing diplomacy and against restrictive policies.

Omar was previously accused of using anti-Semitic language after she suggested that political donations from pro-Israel lobby groups, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are fueling support for Israel in Washington.

She later apologized for the comment, but Palestinian lawyers say allegations of anti-Semitism against Omar and others for their criticism of Israel aim to stifle debate about Israeli government policy.

Progressives defend Omar

This week, several prominent progressives rushed to Omar’s defense following McCarthy’s comments.

Congresswoman Cori Bush urged McCarthy to “do better” and expressed support for Omar. “Islamophobia, racism, religious discrimination and hatred have no place in the Volkshaus or in our society,” she wrote on Twitter.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, described Omar as a “committed” lawmaker and accused Republicans of “weaponizing xenophobia and racism to undermine their voice.”

Many also dismissed attempts to establish an equivalence between Omar and Greene or Paul Gosar, another far-right Republican who was officially rebuked last year for sharing an animated video depicting him fighting Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio -Cortez killed.

“There’s been such a coordinated effort to convince you that progressive black and brown women in office – who serve and lead from lived experiences – are the democratic equivalent of white racial rights persecuting, marginalizing and violence to the rest of us stir up. Stop it,” Congresswoman-elect Summer Lee wrote on Twitter Monday.

McCarthy, who as a minority leader opposed the Democrats’ push against Greene and Gosar, promised revenge last year if the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives.

“You will regret it. And you may regret that much sooner than you think,” he said after Democrats removed Greene from her committee duties.

Aside from the Omar question, many critics have slammed Republicans’ stated priorities for the next Congress, particularly the investigation into the Biden administration.

But Republicans say they will fulfill one of Congress’s jobs by ensuring oversight of government.

Republicans also say their Democratic rivals launched various investigations into former President Donald Trump while he was in office — including reports of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, which they dismiss as a “hoax.”

McCarthy said Sunday he would push to have Schiff removed from the Intelligence Committee, which the Democrat currently chairs, for lying to the American public without providing details.

Schiff fired back, calling McCarthy a “very weak leader” who served “the lowest common denominator” in his faction. “I suspect he’ll do whatever Marjorie Taylor Greene wants him to do,” Schiff told ABC News.



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