House Democrats finalize committee assignments, including Omar on HFAC
Vote to remove Omar from House Foreign Affairs Committee may be teetering after Buck said he won’t support it.
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House Democrats announced finalized committee assignments for returning members on Friday, including formally selecting Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for the House Foreign Affairs Committee. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has promised to hold a vote to remove Omar from the committee.
The fate of that vote may be teetering, however, following Rep. Ken Buck’s (R-CO) announcement over the weekend that he won’t support removing Omar from the committee, arguing that Republicans “should not engage in this tit for tat.” With Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) absent as he recovers from an injury, McCarthy cannot afford to lose any more GOP votes unless he picks up Democratic support.
McCarthy did not comment on when a vote on the issue will be held and it did not appear on Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s (R-LA) weekly schedule released on Sunday, but it could happen as soon as this week.
Omar said yesterday on CNN that she had “used words at the time that I didn’t realize were trafficking in antisemitism,” referring to old tweets claiming that Israel had “hypnotized the world” and that support for Israel is motivated by money.
The Minnesota congresswoman said she has apologized for those statements and continues “to work with my colleagues and my community to fight against antisemitism.”
“My work is clear, the collaboration and work that I do with my Jewish colleagues is very clear,” she said. “The reason that the Democratic caucus has not removed me and will not support my removal on the Foreign Affairs Committee is because I have done the work to make sure that I do not support any bigotry.”
Omar also insisted that she had never “made any comparisons” between Israel and the U.S. and terrorist groups, in reference to comments she made in 2021 that were slammed by Jewish Democrats and that she later walked back.
She claimed that efforts to remove her from committees are driven by politics and a belief that she, as a Muslim, African refugee does not belong in Congress or on the Foreign Affairs Committee, highlighting islamophobic comments by her colleagues and accusing them of being “ok with trafficking, in their own ways, in antisemitism.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is Jewish, appeared alongside Omar on CNN and said that he believes that the accusations of antisemitism are a “pretext,” highlighting some Republicans’ ties to antisemites and white nationalists, particularly Nick Fuentes.
Here’s who else is joining — or leaving — some key House committees:
Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) told JI after a J Street trip to Israel last year that, “One of my greatest takeaways is that to be pro-Israel is to be in favor of recognizing, understanding and dealing with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” and said she’s worried that the prospects for a two-state solution are “slipping away.” She had previously traveled to Israel with the American Israel Education Foundation, and spoke at J Street’s D.C. conference last year. She was endorsed by both AIPAC and J Street.
Rep. Sheila Cherfilus McCormick (D-FL) told JI after visiting Israel with AIEF last year, “We have to step up and do as much as we can to protect Israel and our interests, because they’re not going to stop. Iran’s not going to stop. There are people who are committed to terrorizing Israel, and so we have to be even more committed to protecting Israel.”
Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) has expressed support in the past for the U.S.’s economic and security relationships with the Jewish state. Last year, he condemned Amnesty International’s “conscious decision… to target Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state” as “deeply antisemitic” and “yet another example of the many double standards Jewish people have endured for centuries.”
Leaving the committee: Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Jim Costa (D-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), each mainstream pro-Israel stalwarts who have voiced concerns about nuclear talks with Iran, will not be returning to the panel.
Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA) is the former minority leader of the Louisiana Senate, elected in a special election in 2021, with endorsements from Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Jim Clyburn (D-SC). He voted with all Democrats last year in favor of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program Improvement Act and cosponsored, along with most of his colleagues, a resolution condemning the Congregation Beth Israel attack in Colleyville, Texas. He said in a tweet last year that he would “continue working for an enduring U.S.-Israel partnership that advances democratic values for generations to come.”
Staying on: Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV).
Departing: Many previous members of the panel, including Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Al Green (D-TX), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Nanette Barragán (D-CA) are stepping off the panel. Slotkin had led a subcommittee to hone in on domestic extremism in the previous Congress, and Gottheimer and Torres are prominent voices against antisemitism on the Democratic side of the aisle.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is rejoining the panel after being removed as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee by McCarthy. Schiff, who is Jewish, has become an outspoken critic of right-wing extremism as a prominent opponent of former President Donald Trump and member of the Jan. 6 select committee.
Cycling off: Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), along with Dean and Stanton, are leaving the panel.
Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) has been a member of the House since 2011 and, in 2015, was one of 65 Democrats who attended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the House, while expressing concerns about the way it was organized. “Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East and, as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, it is especially important for me to hear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assessment of the growing crisis in the region,” Sewell said at the time. She has also called the U.S.Israel relationship “sacred,” while criticizing its decision in 2019 to bar entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Reps. Steven Horsford (D-NV) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), the latter of whom was a lead sponsor of the DEFEND Act last year, will rejoin the committee. Reelected members who are not rejoining the committee include Reps. Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Marc Veasey (D-TX), a co-chair of the House bipartisan antisemitism task force.
Read more on the freshman Democrats joining these committees and the Republicans.
This post was updated at 1:00 p.m. ET on 2/1/23 to reflect updates to the Armed Services and Homeland Security committees that had not been announced at the time of publication.