Political gamesmanship is alive and well. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the current House minority leader, stated on Saturday that if he is elected speaker of the House in the coming year, he will remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee as a result of her comments, which he interpreted as being anti-Semitic.
“We watch anti-Semitism grow, not just on our campuses, but we watched it grow in the halls of Congress,” McCarthy said at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting in Las Vegas on Saturday.
“I promised you last year that as speaker, she [Omar] will no longer be on Foreign Affairs, and I’m keeping that promise,” he told a cheering audience.
Omar, who hails from Somalia and practices Islam, has been roundly criticized over the last few years, from both sides of the aisle, for her comments on the relationship between the United States and Israel.
In 2019, the freshman congresswoman said that the United States’ backing of Israel is “all about the Benjamins” in a comment that she posted on Twitter. This prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats to issue a joint statement, in which they said that the comment “deeply offensive” because it invoked a well-established anti-Semitic trope.
McCarthy has not previously hesitated from expressing his desire to remove Omar from her position on the committee. During an interview with Breitbart in January, he stated that he intended to remove Representatives Ilhan Omar, Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the committees on which they serve if Republicans were successful in gaining a majority in the House following the midterm elections.
Omar released a strongly worded statement on Monday in response to McCarthy’s comments. In her statement, she took aim at Republicans, accusing them of making it “their mission to use fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racism to target me on the House Floor and through millions of dollars of campaign ads.” McCarthy’s comments were made on Sunday.
A former prosecutor, Schiff is currently a member of the January 6 committee and served as the senior House manager during the first impeachment trial of President Trump. During the second trial for Trump’s impeachment, Swalwell served as an impeachment manager. Swalwell is also a former prosecutor.
A vote by a majority of the House is needed in order to remove Democrats from the committees to which they have been assigned.