The House Republicans voted to oust Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. from the Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, the latest skirmish in a long-running partisan battle over committee assignments.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy initially faced a number 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. The Republican, Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, a senior member of the Ethics Committee, voted to pass.
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're 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 the members of the Republican Party accused the first black president, Barack Obama, of being a secret Muslim, Omar said.
She said I am Muslim. I am an immigrant from Africa. Is anyone surprised that I am being targeted? Is anyone surprised that I am deemed unworthy to speak about American foreign policy? Is it true that they see me as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced? A few Republicans voiced opposition to the GOP taking action against Omar last week, 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. After meeting with McCarthy, she changed her vote to yes and secured 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, Sen. Ken Buck, R-Colo., said he would change his vote to yes after talking to McCarthy, saying that the speaker appeared open to a proposed rule change that would make it harder to kick lawmakers off of committees.
In a moment before the vote, Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, the lone GOP holdout, emerged from McCarthy's office and announced she would vote yes. Mace said she got a commitment from McCarthy to develop a better process to remove members from committees.
"We have a process for censure today, and we have a process to expel members from the Congress," Mace told reporters. We don't have a process to remove members from their committee.