“My voice will get louder:” Republicans oust Ilhan Omar from House committee
Ilhan Omar accused Republicans of trying to silence her because she is a Muslim immigrant. The Minnesota congresswoman made the comments before she was removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Omar was removed after Republicans accused her of antisemitism due to her past comments about Israel. Omar had already apologised for these comments.
Before the vote, Omar struck a defiant note.
“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 silenced? Frankly, it is expected because when you push power, power pushes back,” Omar said, adding: “My leadership and voice will not be diminished.”
The votes went along party lines, with 218 Republicans voting to remove her and 211 Democrats voting no.
Two conservative Republicans criticised the vote. Reporters overheard Ken Buck of Colorado telling a colleague that it was the "stupidest vote in the world.”
Omar arrived in the US as a refugee from Somalia and is the only African-born member of Congress, and one of the few Muslim women in the House. She was set to become the leading Democrat on the Africa subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Targetting women of colour
In the House, New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visibly angry, accused the GOP leadership of targetting women of colour.
“I had a member of the Republican Caucus threaten my life and you all and the Republican Caucus rewarded him with one of the prestigious committee assignments in Congress,” she said in a passionate speech.
“There is nothing consistent with the Republican party’s continued attack, except for the racism and incitement of violence against women of colour in this body. This is about targetting women of colour in the United States of America.”
Cori Bush, a congresswoman from Missouri, called the removal of Omar offensive. “Republicans are waging a blatantly Islamophobic and racist attack against Congresswoman Omar. I have said it before, I will say it again: The white supremacy happening is unbelievable. This is despicable,” Bush said.
Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern highlighted the hypocrisy within the Republican Party.
“The hypocrisy here is staggering. It literally takes my breath away. Congresswoman Omar has apologised for the things she had said. She has said she wants to be an ally in the fight against antisemitism,” he said.
“She even voted to condemn antisemitism. Every Democrat did as well. Do you know who voted no? Twenty-three Republicans. Twenty-three Republicans voted against condemning antisemitism. Maybe the gentleman can explain whether or not they should be removed from their committees.”