A House vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, following recent comments by U.S. Rep Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., has been delayed, as Democrats scramble to rewrite the motion to include all forms of prejudice and progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez come to the defense of their embattled colleague.
The declaration – which doesn’t mention Omar by name – was initially set to be introduced Wednesday. It was to set out the history of anti-Semitism and other bigotry in America and provide examples of anti-Jewish tropes about divided loyalties.
It was also supposed to say the House “rejects anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”
The resolution effort came after Omar – for at least the second time in recent months – ignited an uproar for echoing anti-Semitic tropes.
In February, she suggested on Twitter that supporters of Israel have been bought, and that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) contributes to pro-Israel politicians despite the fact that the group does not make campaign contributions. The congresswoman then accused American supporters of Israel of pushing people to have “allegiance to a foreign country.”
Democrats have now delayed the resolution to at least Thursday, as the party's House leadership works to reword the statement to include other forms of bigotry – all while facing pressure from progressive Democrats who are defending Omar, Politico reported.
“We're still discussing it,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told the outlet Tuesday. “The sentiment is that it ought to be broad-based. What we're against is hate, prejudice, bigotry, white supremacy, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism.”
“Yes, we're strongly against anti-Semitism, but we're strongly against prejudice directed at any group,” he added.
“The sentiment is that it ought to be broad-based. What we're against is hate, prejudice, bigotry, white supremacy, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism. Yes, we're strongly against anti-Semitism, but we're strongly against prejudice directed at any group.”
Liberals of the Democratic Party have also pushed to include the condemnation of anti-Muslim rhetoric, particularly after a poster displayed at the West Virginia Statehouse – at an event sponsored by the West Virginia GOP – linked Omar to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Far-left Jewish and Muslim groups, meanwhile, plan to stage events in support of Omar while progressive political groups reportedly will launch a fundraising effort in support of those Democratic lawmakers who back Omar.
Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., came to the defense of her close ally in Congress on Tuesday, saying that it was “hurtful” that the Democratic leadership was trying to reprimand Omar for anti-Semitic comments while not doing the same when it comes to “statements about Latinx + other communities.”
“It’s not my position to tell people how to feel, or that their hurt is invalid,” she wrote. “But incidents like these do beg the question: where are the resolutions against homophobic statements? For anti-blackness? For xenophobia? For a member saying he’ll ‘send Obama home to Kenya?’” (The latter appeared to refer to a past comment by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., as seen in a 2012 video that resurfaced last week, according to a USA Today report.)
Ocasio-Cortez added that Democrats should have dealt with Omar privately rather than immediately call her out in public for the comments.
“‘Calling out’ is one of the measures of last resort, not 1st or 2nd resort,” the New York Democrat wrote. “We do it when repeated attempts to ‘call in’ are disrespected or ignored. And I believe that Ilhan, in her statement a few weeks ago, has demonstrated a willingness to listen+work w/impacted communities.”
Omar’s anti-Semitic comments have also prompted calls to remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a move Republicans say would be an appropriate punishment as when they stripped Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, from committee memberships after he made remarks deemed racist.
Yet U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, dismissed such action against Omar and said her presence on the committee isn’t tied to her comments.
“I don't think the Foreign Affairs Committee should be used as punishment for anybody,” Engel told reporters, according to Politico. “But I do think [Omar] needs to understand what she said is very hurtful. Whether she is on the committee or not is not the issue.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.