Engel (D): 'Very Disappointed' Democrats Didn't Pass Separate Resolution Condemning Anti-Semitism

March 7, 2019

Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) on Thursday said he's "very disappointed" with fellow Democrats in the House for not passing a standalone resolution to condemn the anti-Semitic rhetoric from freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.).

Engel, who is Jewish, was speaking on the House floor when he made his comments. While he said he would ultimately support the "fine resolution" that the Democrats wrote, he was not happy that the resolution didn't specifically address Omar's "hateful term."

"This resolution is a fine resolution and I will support it, but I am very disappointed that we weren't able to have a separate resolution to specifically condemn anti-Semitism and what our colleague said that really was a very hateful term," Engel said.

"I hope we can put everything together in this House. I know we can. I know people on both sides of the aisle want to work together and we want to stomp out any form of hatred, particularly anti-Semitism. I will continue to work with anybody who wants to do that," Engel continued.

The House voted on the resolution Thursday evening, passing it by a vote of 407-23. The vote was initially going to be earlier in the week, but Democrats were divided and started speaking out in support of Omar, one of two Muslim women in Congress. Some of the progressive members of Congress pressured the House leadership to expand the language to "opposing hate" on all sides.

"Whether from the political right, center, or left, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, racism, and imputations of dual loyalty threaten American democracy and have no place in American political discourse," the resolution reads.

Earlier this month, Omar apologized for anti-Semitic tweets, some of which were quietly deleted last week. She also apologized for a past tweet where she accused Israel of hypnotizing the world and performing evil acts. There has been pressure from House Republicans and President Donald Trump to strip Omar of her House Foreign Affairs Committee seat, but Engel, the chairman of the committee, rejected the call and said he doesn't have the power to do it.

"First of all, it's not up to me," he said. "This is done by the leadership. I don't know that that would do anything except exacerbate the situation even more. I'm looking to get rid of anti-Semitism, not looking to punish anybody."

"It's very important that we keep our eye on the prize, and I think that whenever there is hatred being spewed, or again, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia, I think we have to speak out," Engel said.