Rep. Josh Gottheimer came to the defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar in the lead up to the vote that removed the Minnesota Democrat from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The two lawmakers have famously spared in the past, especially over matters relating to the Middle East and Israel. But Gottheimer said a vote to dismiss Omar from the House committee was uncalled for.
“Removing a Member of Congress for inciting violence is appropriate,” argued Gottheimer. “However, removing a member for having different viewpoints—even ones I strongly oppose—violates the entire basis of our democracy.”
The vote to remove Omar, by a 218-to-211 party-line vote Feb. 2, was seen as settling a partisan score when the House Democrats stripped Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ)of their committee assignments for social media posts in which they endorsed violence against Democrats in 2021.
This was the second instance of Republicans removing Democrats from a House committee in this term. Last week, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) unilaterally removed fellow California representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where membership is appointed and thus not subject to a vote.
Gottheimer Worries About Precedent
McCarthy said Schiff was removed for his conduct during the first impeachment trial of Donald Trump and Swalwell for being targeted by a suspected Chinese spy as part of an influence campaign. Dems, including Rep. Bill Pascrell, believed Schiff and Swalwell were being exiled for their criticism of Trump.
Gottheimer wondered if the precedent that Republicans could be applied to him in the future.
“After all, what if next year, a Member of Congress targets me for my unshakable commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship?” asked the North Jersey lawmaker. “I have been consistent in my public condemnation of anti-Israel rhetoric and antisemitism—from either side of the political spectrum.”
“I am sure there will be issues in the future where Congresswoman Omar and I will differ, as in the past, and I will not be shy about my views. I know that debating our differences is what a healthy democracy demands.”
As for his support of Omar, Gottheimer noted he has been willing to have constructive engagement with those with differing viewpoints that has resulted in “in an open, often emotional, sometimes pointed, and always honest dialogue” for some time now between the two.
The two Democrats clashed in 2019 when Omar—famously named a member of The Squad along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ayanna Pressley (R-MA)— invoked antisemitic tropes in suggesting that Congress was paid to support Israel and American Jews had pledged allegiance to a foreign country. Those comments and the Congresswoman equated “atrocities” carried out by the U.S. military to those committed by terrorist groups like the Taliban and Hamas two years later were cited by Republicans for committee removal.
The North Jersey lawmaker said that dialogue since then resulted in an “enormous step forward” as Omar signed as a co-sponsor for to the Recognizing Israel as America’s Legitimate and Democratic Ally and Condemning Antisemitism resolution that offers support of Israel as a Jewish and legitimate democratic state, acknowledges Israel as a vital ally, and that condemns the use of antisemitic tropes, including those masquerading as anti-Israel sentiments.
“My hope is that the resolution…will reinforce to people across our country, especially the scores of young people who look up to Congresswoman Omar, the importance of rejecting reflexive antisemitism and historic tropes, and seeing Israel as a key, historic, democratic ally of the United States,” said Gottheimer.
The Bergen County residents was hopeful the congressional resolution that was made without rancor or name calling would be a template for all going forward.
“It reflects what is possible,” he said. “The work against hate, against anti-Israel antisemitism, and against violence targeting Jews continues — and all of us must be both resolute and ready to reach out. That is the best path forward.”
The best decision ! ! !
Someone that married are brother do Not diserve to be in any political affairs in a free country. 👏🏿 Bravo now she need to be kicked out of our Congress !