White House condemns House GOP for ‘political stunt’ after Ilhan Omar removed from Foreign Affairs panel

White House condemns House GOP for ‘political stunt’ after Ilhan Omar removed from Foreign Affairs panel

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday slammed House Republicans’ vote to remove Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee as a performative action taken against a respected member of Congress.

Republicans had sought to remove Ms Omar from the powerful House panel over past comments that they have interpreted as antisemitic. In 2019, she tweeted that Republicans’ desire to condemn her comments about Israel were “all about the Benjamins, baby”.

Ms Omar’s remark, which was a reference to a 1997 song by rapper Sean Combs (aka Diddy), the title of which referred to Benjamin Franklin’s presence on $100 bills, was seen by many as an invocation of a common antisemitic trope regarding Jewish money financing American politicians.

Ms Omar later apologised for her remarks, but House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pressed for her removal nonetheless.

Asked about the House’s action at her daily press briefing, Ms Jean-Pierre said the White House believes Ms Omar to be a “highly respected member of Congress” and noted that the Minnesota congresswoman had apologised for her comments as recently as Sunday during an appearance on CNN.

“The way that we see this it's a political stunt, much like House Republicans unjust removal of other leading Democrats from key committees in recent weeks, and it is a disservice to the American people,” she said.

Mr McCarthy’s push to remove Ms Omar from the foreign affairs panel was seen largely as a tit-for-tat retaliatory action after two Republicans were booted from committees by a vote of the full House during the last Congress.

In one such instance, all Democrats and 11 Republicans voted to remove Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for racist, antisemitic and conspiratorial remarks she made on a number of subjects before her election to Congress in 2020.

Arizona Representative Paul Gosar was booted from his committee assignments after he posted a doctored animated video to social media which depicted him murdering New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

Both GOP members were restored to their committee posts by Mr McCarthy earlier this year.