Republican representatives Nancy Mace (S.C.) and Victoria Spartz (Ind.) say they will buck their party to vote in favor of keeping anti-Israel Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Mace and Spartz are defending Omar as she faces a vote next week meant to eject her from the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee. Omar’s place on the committee has irked Republican leaders due to her repeated anti-Semitic statements and fierce advocacy against Israel. Omar claimed in 2021 that "Israel has hypnotized the world." She also claimed that pro-Israel politicians were paid off to support the Jewish state and support for Israel was "all about the Benjamins baby."
The impending vote is a test for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), who has had trouble keeping his party in line following the protracted and contentious vote that ultimately handed him the speaker’s gavel. One of McCarthy’s top priorities is removing Omar and other controversial Democrats from committee positions in the same way Democrats stripped Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R., Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) of their committee assignments over tenuous claims they incited violence. But with two Republicans already joining Democrats, McCarthy may not have enough votes to successfully boot Omar from the committee.
Spartz, in a statement earlier this week, said, "Two wrongs do not make a right. Speaker Pelosi took unprecedented actions last Congress to remove Reps. Greene and Gosar from their committees without due process. Speaker McCarthy is taking unprecedented actions this Congress to deny some committee assignments to the minority without proper due process again."
"I will not support this charade again," Spartz said.
The vote to remove Omar will require a majority voting in favor, but with Mace and Spartz defecting, and Democrats expected to unanimously back her, the vote could fail if any other Republicans switch sides. Further complicating matters, Rep. Greg Steube (R., Fla.)—the author of a 2019 resolution condemning Omar’s numerous anti-Semitic remarks—is currently in the hospital after suffering a fall at his Florida home.
Omar’s place on the Foreign Affairs Committee has long rankled Republicans, pro-Israel lawmakers, and Jewish advocacy groups, all of whom see her as pushing an anti-Israel agenda on a committee that has historically stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jewish state.
Omar, in 2012, claimed that "Israel has hypnotized the world," adding, "May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel." In 2018, she claimed "drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews," though such claims are used by Israel’s detractors to foster anti-Semitism.
Omar also has attacked the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the most well-known pro-Israel advocacy group in America. "It’s all about the Benjamins baby," she tweeted in 2019 about the group. These comments were quickly condemned by Republicans, Democrats, and pro-Israel organizations across the political spectrum due to their anti-Semitic nature. Claims that wealthy Jews control politics are a hallmark of anti-Semitic rhetoric and are routinely employed by white nationalist groups and terrorist organizations.
Omar also is accused of marrying her own brother and lying about it to the media. The FBI said in 2020 that it was investigating these claims. Attempts to reach the man she married for comment were unsuccessful.