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House votes to kick Rep. Ilhan Omar off Foreign Affairs Committee

McCarthy on debt ceiling, committee assignments and more

Washington — The House on Thursday voted to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her past controversial comments about Israel, ousting the Minnesota Democrat in a show of force by the newly empowered Republican majority. 

The vote on the resolution to remove her from the panel was 218 to 211 and fell strictly along party lines, with one GOP member voting "present."

The resolution to remove Omar cited  she made in 2019 and 2021 in which she invoked antisemitic tropes, including criticism of pro-Israel politicians as being "all about the Benjamins," and compared the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban. The remarks drew criticism from fellow Democrats as well as Republicans. 

"Representative Omar, by her own words, has disqualified herself from serving on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, a panel that is viewed by nations around the world as speaking for Congress on matters of international importance and national security," the resolution said, adding that her comments "have brought dishonor to the House of Representatives."

Republicans have pledged to take action against Omar and other Democrats since 2021, when Democrats controlled the House and voted to strip far-right GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar from their committee assignments over their own controversial comments. McCarthy restored both members to committee spots after he became speaker last month. 

Democrats have decried the move as a politically motivated stunt, and pointed to McCarthy's decision to seat GOP Rep. George Santos to two committees despite Santos' admission that he fabricated large swaths of his biography. Santos told his colleagues this week that he would not serve on committees.

McCarthy said Wednesday that Republicans were moving forward with the vote to remove Omar. Several GOP holdouts who previously expressed concerns about due process ultimately supported the resolution with the addition of a provision establishing an appeals process. Republicans hold a slim majority in the House, leaving little room for defections.

The speaker said there are "many committees" Omar can serve on, but the Foreign Affairs Committee, with all the classified information it entails, isn't one of them.

"I'm not saying she can't have committees," McCarthy said after a meeting at the White House. "But to sit on Foreign Affairs, I worry about … what the rest of the world looks at, every single word that is said there. I'm worried about predetermining what she believes in that situation. She admitted herself, she didn't even know referring to financial money, dollars, was a trope for those who happen to be Jewish." 

Asked about her past comments on CNN on Sunday, Omar said she didn't realize at the time they were "trafficking in antisemitism" and called McCarthy's effort to remove her from the committee "politically motivated." 

"Yes, I might have used words at the time that I didn't understand were trafficking in antisemitism," Omar said Sunday. "When that was brought to my attention, I apologized. I owned up to it. That's the kind of person that I am. And I continue to work with my colleagues and my community to fight against antisemitism."

Last month, McCarthy also blocked Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, which he could do unilaterally, since the Intelligence panel is a select committee. Removing Omar required a vote of the full House.

Kathryn Watson

Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital based in Washington, D.C.

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