Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) renewed threat to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee an attempt to “gin up fear and hate against Somali-Americans” in a statement this week.
McCarthy vowed during an appearance on Fox News last year to kick Omar off the committee if Republicans won the majority in the House. He doubled down on that promise on Twitter over the weekend.
“Last year, I promised that when I became Speaker, I would remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee based on her repeated anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks,” McCarthy wrote in a tweet. “I’m keeping that promise.”
Omar said McCarthy’s preoccupation with removing her from the committee doesn’t address the issues most important to voters. “McCarthy’s effort to repeatedly single me out for scorn and hatred—including threatening to strip me from my committee—does nothing to address the issues our constituents deal with. It does nothing to address inflation, health care, or solve the climate crisis,” she said.
While Republicans gained control of the House during the midterm elections and McCarthy won the party’s nomination to become the next House speaker, his ascension to the role remains uncertain.
McCarthy will need to win a majority vote when the new members take office and hold a deciding vote in January. No Democrats are expected to back McCarthy, so he can afford to lose just a small number of Republican votes. At least four GOP members have already signaled their opposition to McCarthy’s bid for speaker.
Even if McCarthy does become the next House speaker, his plan to strip Omar from the committee could be out of reach.
Below McCarthy’s threatening tweet, Twitter provided additional context about the workings of House committees, clarifying that Omar can only be removed from the committee by a majority vote in the House.
In his initial promise to remove Omar, McCarthy characterized her as “anti-Semitic” and “anti-American.”
Omar, who was born in Somalia, noted in her statement that she has “been a proud citizen of the United States for more than 20 years,” adding, “this constant stream of hate has led to hundreds of death threats and credible plots against me and my family.”
McCarthy’s doubling down on his threat puts Omar and members of the Muslim community at risk, said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN).
“Rep. Kevin McCarthy doubled down on dangerous White supremacy [and] stands against Congresswoman Omar,” Hussein said. “His decision validates continued attacks against the congresswoman and her family and community.”
In September, an attack on a St. Cloud, Minnesota mosque became the fifth attack targeting a mosque in Minnesota in 2022 —the highest in a single year in the state’s history.
Omar doubled down on her own vow following McCarthy’s comments. “I will not stop fighting for more equitable, more just and more humane policies. I will not stop advocating for peace and human rights around the world,” she said. “And I will not stop fighting for an America that does not single out people based on their race or religion.”
Niara Savage is a contributor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.