House Democrats have finally conceded to public pressure and are prepared to address the anti-Semitic remarks of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in a resolution that doesn’t mention Omar by name.
The situation is reminiscent of when the House formally reprimanded Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, for a statement he made about white nationalism and white supremacy in a lengthy New York Times interview.
But there is a huge difference in how King and Omar have been treated by their own parties.
The reprimand aimed at Omar doesn’t even mention the freshman congresswoman by name. King’s did. But even that version wasn’t watered down enough for many Democrats, who also wanted the resolution changed to include other kids of religious bigotry, resulting in a big intraparty disagreement on Tuesday. Objectors got the vote pushed back a day.
There was no push inside the Republican party to expand the resolution condemning King to include anti-conservative bias on college campuses or on social media, and Republicans would have been mocked for entertaining such an idea.
Furthermore, whatever implied slap on the wrist Omar may get in this resolution, so far it looks like she’s going to keep her committee assignments in the aftermath.
Most people advocating for stronger reprimands against Omar have mainly focused on her slot on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but not her spot on the House Education and Labor Committee. King lost all his assignments, including his spot on the Agriculture Committee.
Plus, the House Democrats, supposedly dedicated to government transparency, are still discussing whether or not to make their internal conference rules public. So it’s not publicly known how House Democratic leadership makes decisions about committee assignment and removal.
By contrast, under the rules of the House Republican Conference, decisions about committee assignments are ultimately up to the Republican Steering Committee. When King was stripped of his assignments in January, House GOP steering voted unanimously to do so.
Ultimately, regardless of how each party’s leadership makes committee decisions and recommendations internally, the speaker of the House has final authority to assign and remove House members to and from standing committees, per House rule 1, section 11.
That seems unlikely, given that the Democratic House Foreign Affairs chairman said that he won’t push to remove her from the committee. “I don’t know that that would do anything except exacerbate the situation even more,” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., told CNN. “I’m looking to get rid of anti-Semitism, not looking to punish anybody.”
This is how House Democrats have chosen to respond to multiple high-profile anti-Semitic slurs coming from a single new House member in the first three months of her freshman session. Compare that with how Republicans responded to one statement in an hourlong interview by a longtime member of their conference just a few weeks earlier.