Republicans vote to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) holds a news conference to discuss legislation creating “a federal grant program to help local governments invest in waste reduction initiatives,” at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 25, 2019.

Mary F. Calvert | Reuters

House Republicans on Thursday voted to oust Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from the Foreign Affairs Committee — the latest skirmish in a long-running partisan battle over committee assignments

Speaker Kevin McCarthy initially had faced a handful of GOP defections, but by Thursday he and his team had whipped GOP members back in line, and 218 Republicans voted to back the resolution condemning Omar for past antisemitic comments and removing her from the committee. One Republican, Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, a senior member of the Ethics Committee, voted present.

All 211 Democrats unified behind Omar, who gave an emotional and defiant floor speech before the vote that left many of her colleagues in tears.

“There is this idea that you are a suspect if you are an immigrant, or if you are from certain parts of the world or a certain skin tone, or a Muslim. It is no accident that members of the Republican Party accused the first black president, Barack Obama, of being a secret Muslim,” Omar said.

“Well, I am Muslim,” she added. “I am an immigrant, and interestingly, from Africa. Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am somehow deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy? Or that they see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced?”

Last week, several Republicans voiced opposition to the GOP taking action against Omar, threatening to derail the vote given their new, razor-thin majority.

But this week, those defectors began to fall in line. On Tuesday, Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., flipped her vote to yes after meeting with McCarthy and securing language in the Omar resolution that would give lawmakers a chance to appeal removal from committees.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who was on the fence, said he would back the resolution. On Wednesday, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said he would change his vote to yes after talking to McCarthy, saying the speaker appeared open to a proposed rule change that would make it harder to kick lawmakers off of committees.

Moments before the vote, Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, the lone GOP holdout, emerged from McCarthy’s office and announced she would also vote yes. Mace said she got a commitment from McCarthy to develop a better process to remove members from committees.

“We have a process today for [censure]. We have a process today to expel members from the Congress,” Mace told reporters. “We don’t have a process to remove members from their committee.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

— Ali Vitali contributed.

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