Feb 6, 2023

Rep. Ilhan Omar Removed From Foreign Affairs Committee Transcript

Rep. Ilhan Omar Removed From Foreign Affairs Committee Transcript
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Rep. Ilhan Omar Removed From Foreign Affairs Committee. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

We have breaking news on Capitol Hill. The new House Republican majority has voted to oust Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from her post on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. They cited some of Omar’s past controversial statements, saying she doesn’t have an objective mindset. Omar has since apologized for anti-Semitic remarks, including one suggesting that Pro-Israel lobbyists were buying political support. ABC’s Jay O’Brien joins me live from Capitol Hill now for more, so Jay, how significant is this move?

Speaker 2 (00:32):

Yeah, Alexis, that vote just, ending Republicans ousting Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, 218 dor ousting her, 211 against, those 211 obviously Democrats, the 218 Republicans. There was one who voted present that was a Republican. We’re working on asking him why he made that vote the way it was. But I can tell you, I was in the chamber, and before that vote there was passionate debate. There was a group of about 40 Democrats all sitting around Ilhan Omar. They were all walking up to the microphone expressing support for her. There were some prominent Jewish Democrats there as well.

We’ve heard Republicans say they wanted to kick Omar off of foreign affairs because of previous antisemitic statements which Omar has apologized for. We also heard Republicans make mention today of what they say is a lack of support from Omar for the state of Israel. But overall, Ilhan Omar taking the mic before this speech and saying, “I am an American,” and saying that this whole debate hinges on the question of who is an American and what makes an American. She also promised at the end of her remarks that even if she were to be removed from the Foreign Affairs Committee, which has now happened, that she will continue to make her voice heard and continue to be an advocate for the causes that she cares about, Alexis.

Speaker 1 (01:41):

Now of course, this vote follows Speaker McCarthy’s decision to remove Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee. How are Democrats responding to that?

Speaker 2 (01:53):

Well, Democrats are calling all of this political retribution, revenge politics, if you will, and this is somewhat different than the Intel Committee, because the Intel Committee is a select committee which the speaker has control over, meaning he can remove members of that committee on his own without a house vote. In this case, in Omar’s case, you need a house vote, which is what just transpired, to remove someone off of a committee like the Foreign Affairs Committee. But again, Democrats saying that all of these removals of their members from committees is political retribution, and even Republicans are saying that this was started, the ball began rolling here in the eyes of some Republicans when Democrats made the decision to remove representatives like Marjorie Taylor Green and Paul Gosar from their committee assignments in the last Congress. Democrats obviously making those decisions because of previous statements that Marjorie Taylor Green had made, some of which were considered anti-Semitic, a statement about Jewish space lasers, for instance, and Paul Gosar tweeting of a violent video that referenced Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

So, Republicans drawing comparisons between these committee removals and other committee removals, Democrats today in their defense of Ilhan Omar saying that what Omar has been criticized for, what Adam Schiff and what Eric Squall Republicans criticized them for, is nowhere near comparable to why they made the decision to remove Marjorie Taylor Green and Paul Gosar in the previous Congress,

Speaker 1 (03:14):

I wonder if others are talking about how this may appear hypocritical, because you have McCarthy, he did a point and battled Congressman George Santos to two committees, although he has since recused himself. How is McCarthy responding to critics who are calling that hypocritical for calling for Santos to be removed?

Speaker 2 (03:31):

Well, Santos was one hammer that Democrats used repeatedly up until the point that he made that decision, McCarthy says, to remove himself from those two committees. We heard Democrats frequently say, “Well, you’re kicking Ilhan Omar and Adam Schiff off of committees, but you’re appointing George Santos,” to your point, “to low profile committees, but committees nonetheless.” Since Santos’ decision to take himself off of those committees as those investigations progress in New York and an ethics committee investigation progresses here in Congress, we haven’t heard Democrats make mention of George Santos’ committee assignments, but what we have heard is repeated claims of hypocrisy as it relates to Marjorie Taylor Green and Paul Gosar, who now have high-profile committee assignments in this Congress. Both are now sitting on the powerful House Oversight Committee, Alexis.

Speaker 1 (04:20):

What do you think this just means on the larger political scale, the fact that Omar was the first of many, right, the first African refugee to become a member of Congress, the first woman of color to represent Minnesota, one of the first two Muslim American women elected to Congress? What does her removal from this committee mean in the greater political landscape?

Speaker 2 (04:40):

Well, the question that really confronts the House Republican Conference now is how far does this revenge politics go? Is this the last Democrat to be removed from committees? All signs point to that it is. But the question again is now that Republicans are in control of the House of Representatives, now that they have this majority, how will they exercise this power? We’ve already seen examples of removing Democrats from committees that they don’t want on those committees. This is now the third Democrat that that’s happened to. But how does this look like going forward? What is the overall landscape for house Republicans and how do they wield their power in this chamber? We know that another way they’re going to wield their power is investigations into the Biden administration, into Hunter Biden, into the border crisis and things of that nature.

Speaker 3 (05:23):

Two minutes.

Speaker 1 (05:24):

Yeah, there was lots and lots of investigations to keep track of. Jay O’Brien, thanks so much.

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