Ilhan Omar stripped of House Foreign Affairs Committee seat

Republican-controlled House of Representatives votes US representative off of the influential committee over past controversial statements

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US Representative Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women to serve in the US Congress, was stripped on Thursday of her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee over previous anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric.

The Republican-controlled House voted along party lines, with 218 voting in favour of booting Ms Omar from the influential committee and 211 voting against.

Republican Max Miller of Ohio, who introduced the bill, said: “Congresswoman Omar has attempted to undermine the relationship between the United States and Israel, one of the most important strategic alliances we have.

“She has disqualified herself from serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee.”

Ms Omar, who fled civil war in Somalia as a child and spent several years in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the US, has come under fire for controversial statements made about Israel and the Jewish people.

In 2019, she was forced to apologise for a tweet in which she propagated an anti-Semitic trope.

But the third-term congresswoman has been a force in Washington since she arrived in 2017, helping to lead the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Her Democratic colleagues were visibly emotional as Mr Omar spoke during the removal hearing on Thursday.

‘“My leadership and voice will not be diminished if I am not on this committee for one term; my voice will get louder and stronger and my leadership will be celebrated around the world as it has been,” said Ms Omar.

“So take your votes or not — I am here to stay.”

Ms Omar's close ally, Rashida Tlaib, held back tears as she defended her colleague, saying: “Our country is failing you today through this chamber.”

Gregory Meeks, the ranking Democrat on the committee, slammed Republicans for the resolution.

“Today’s vote is not a reflection of Representative Omar, but on the rank hypocrisy of Republican leadership, which has used its power to exact revenge on their political opponents and, in the case of Omar, punish a member to satisfy the extreme Maga [Make America Great Again] wing of their party," he said in a statement.

It is rare but not unheard of for representatives to be stripped of their committee memberships.

Most recently, Republican Marjorie Taylor Green was stripped of her appointments over a series of incendiary comments, and Paul Gosar had his taken away after he shared a violent video depicting the killing of Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Updated: February 03, 2023, 5:36 AM