A group of Republicans in Congress are pushing to strip Democratic representative Ilhan Omar of her committee assignments, as Democrats move to do the same to the GOP’s Marjorie Taylor Greene over her past comments, which frequently targeted Ms Omar.
“If the Democrat Majority wants to go down this road, they should start by dealing with their own members who have been at this before and AFTER their election to Congress,” congressman Brian Babin of Texas wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, and arguing incidents where Ms Omar had criticized US policy in the Middle East and used clumsy language in talking about a Jewish organization were equivalent offenses.
Fellow Republicans Ronny Jackson of Texas, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Jody Hice of Georgia reportedly support the effort.
Ms Omar, who along with representative Rashida Tlaib was the first Muslim woman elected to Congress in 2018, called the effort a “desperate smear,” and pointed to the ways Ms Greene had supported conspiracy theories around the election that turned violent at the 6 January attack on the Capitol, as well directly singled her out and threatened her, including past videos of Greene on the Capitol grounds saying Muslim representatives weren’t legitimate, and a campaign ad which featured the Georgia representative holding an assault rifle near Ms Omar’s face, which the Minnesota congresswoman said led to death threats against her.
“This is a desperate smear rooted in racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia. Marjorie Taylor Greene has incited violence against her fellow Members of Congress, repeatedly singling out prominent women of color,” she wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
She also lambasted Republicans for getting behind “members of their own cause who encourage violence,” such as Ms Greene.
“It’s time to stop whitewashing to actions of the violent conspiracy theorists, who pose a direct and immediate threat to their followers of Congress and our most fundamental democratic processes,” Ms Omar continued.
Representative Greene got on Twitter on Wednesday to claim she was in fact the one facing discrimination based on her identity.
“White, Woman, Wife, Mother, Christian, Conservative, Business Owner,” she wrote. “These are the reasons they don’t want me on Ed & Labor. It’s my identity & my values.”
Democrats rallied behind Ms Omar in the face of the move from the GOP.
"There's absolutely no analogy to any member on our side of the aisle, period," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Wednesday. "Any analogy that they try to make is a specious one."
Prior to getting elected, Ms Greene said Muslims didn’t belong in government, called Ms Omar’s election an “Islamic invasion,” insisted she couldn’t serve in government because she had sworn in on a Quran, as well as liking posts on social media calling for violence and death to Democratic leaders like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi.
She hasn’t apologized for the posts, but has said some were made by members of her staff and didn’t represent her views, and later wrote off the controversy over her comments as much ado about “a few social media posts before I ran for Congress.”
Once being elected, she was a fierce backer of former president Trump’s evidence-free objections to the election results, and even voted to maintain them after the riot on the Capitol. Representative Cori Bush, a Black woman from Missouri, requested to move her office away from Ms Greene’s, after she says she and her staff were “berated” because they had asked the Georgia rep to wear a mask to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The intra-party war over what to do with the controversial Georgia congresswoman, and Trump-style bomb throwing within the GOP more broadly, looks set to continue. Ms Greene met with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday, and GOP leadership met later that day to consider removing her from committee assignments but didn’t reach a conclusion. Top Republicans like Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney have labelled her a “cancer” and a “kook” within the party.
On Wednesday, the GOP conference will meet to debate whether to strip representative Liz Cheney of a leadership position for backing the second set of impeachment charges against Donald Trump .
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