The ReidOut Blog

From The ReidOut with Joy Reid

Omar isn’t afraid of McCarthy — but his purge vows are ominous

Kevin McCarthy vowed to seek the removal of three Democrats from committees. If he follows through, it will mark a new low in Congress.


House Speaker Kevin McCarthy recently restated his promise to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, claiming it was because of “her repeated antisemitic and anti-American remarks.” 

In reality, McCarthy has admitted that this is retaliation for lawmakers (including some Republicans) having removed GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona from committees after they encouraged violence against Democrats and spread dangerous right-wing conspiracy theories. 

In a Breitbart interview last year, McCarthy said he would move to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee if he were to become speaker. In that interview, McCarthy also vowed to remove Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff, both California Democrats, from the House Intelligence Committee — Schiff over his role in investigating an alleged dossier that claimed to outline relations between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, and Swalwell over dubious allegations about him and a Chinese spy that have taken hold in right-wing media.

Omar, in particular, has been a target of right-wing hatemongers, who have sought to other-ize her for years. In 2018, she and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., became the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and both have predictably been portrayed as anti-American via racist tropes and conspiracy theories. Both lawmakers have also faced allegations of antisemitism for their criticism of the Israeli government.

This was the case in 2019, when Omar criticized conservative, pro-Israel groups, like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, for wielding influence over U.S. politicians. Reports have shown that AIPAC does, in fact, lobby lawmakers in favor of Israel’s government and funds lawmakers’ trips to Israel. But Omar apologized “unequivocally” for her tweets

On MSNBC on Sunday, host Richard Lui asked Omar whether she had heard any developments on her potential removal from the Foreign Affairs Committee after McCarthy’s ascension to the speakership. 

“I have not,” Omar said. “It’s my understanding that we obviously have to get the rules package done. Hopefully Monday, when we reconvene, that is on top of the agenda, and then the different caucuses, our caucus and their conference, will make appointments to committees, and then we will go from there.”

Omar claimed the “historic humiliation” suffered by McCarthy last week should inspire him to run the House differently than it has been run in the past. And she noted that being the first African-born member of the Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on Africa has given her “the opportunity to not only represent my constituents, but the voice of so many people who have never had a voice on the Foreign Affairs Committee.”

In the right-wing mind, advocating against conservative views is comparable to violence and deserving of equal punishment.

I suspect that her influence on that front, similar to Swalwell and Schiff’s on the Intelligence Committee, is the precise reason why McCarthy and House Republicans may want them each removed. As this situation proves: In the right-wing mind, advocating against conservative views is comparable to violence and deserving of equal punishment. 

Ultimately, McCarthy can’t remove the lawmakers from committees with the stroke of a pen. He’d need to bring their assignments up for a vote before the full House, where the GOP majority would be allowed to finalize the act. As Schiff said last year, he fully expects McCarthy to do just that. 

With House Republicans passing its rules package on Monday, we could get an answer on this very soon.