Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) says he is undecided on whether he will vote to boot anti-Semitic Democrat Ilhan Omar (Minn.) off the House Foreign Affairs Committee, telling Newsmax that he is a fan of her fierce opposition to "neoconservative" foreign policy and pointing to her questioning of former State Department official Elliott Abrams as a highlight of her good work on the committee.
Gaetz's comments on Monday night further endanger an effort by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) to see Omar removed from the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee due to her repeated anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments. Omar said in 2012 that "Israel has hypnotized the world." In 2019, she took aim at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the country's most prominent pro-Israel lobby, saying, "It's all about the Benjamins baby."
Three other Republicans, Reps. Nancy Mace (S.C.), Victoria Spartz (Ind.), and Ken Buck (Colo.), have already said they will join Democrats in voting to keep Omar on the committee. While Gaetz says he is undecided on the vote—which will require a majority of the narrowly Republican-controlled House to vote in favor—he praised Omar for positioning herself as a fierce opponent of the so-called neoconservative foreign policy community, members of which served under former president George W. Bush and launched the war on terrorism against America's enemies.
"Sometimes there is a view on foreign policy that isn't 'invade everywhere, try to turn every foreign land into a Jeffersonian democracy,' and there are times Ilhan makes those arguments, and they're arguments that are, at times, aligned with America First foreign policy," Gaetz said.
He also praised Omar for getting into a feisty 2019 verbal dispute with Abrams during his testimony before the Foreign Affairs Committee.
"Go watch Ilhan Omar question Elliott Abrams in the Foreign Affairs Committee about some of the neoconservative policies that were very detrimental in South America," Gaetz enthusiastically told Newsmax.
The Republican also said he views the effort to remove Omar as vastly different from bids to strip Reps. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) from their committees over their support for claims that former president Donald Trump was a Russian asset.
"The reason I think a lot of Republicans want to kick Ilhan Omar off the Foreign Affairs Committee is because they don't like what she has to say," Gaetz said. "It's one thing to do dangerous things to the country with intelligence, it's quite another to say I don’t like your viewpoint and thus I want to remove you."
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 31, 2023