House Condemns Anti-Semitism, Anti-Muslim Discrimination, 'Bigotry Against Minorities'

Patrick Goodenough | March 7, 2019 | 7:45pm EST
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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. takes part in a House Education and Labor Committee meeting on March 6, 2019. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

( – The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a resolution initially intended to be a response to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s controversial statements about Jews – but which was, Republican critics say, “watered down” by Democratic leadership to broadly condemn other forms of bigotry as well.

The vote was 407-23, with all 23 “nays” coming from Republicans (list below).

Omar was not named in the measure, which lumped together anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and bigotry targeting “African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and others.”

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) wondered why Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Wiccans or disabled people weren’t included as well.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said he would vote against the “watered down” resolution, because what started out as an initiative to condemn anti-Semitic remarks had been diluted.

“We came here to condemn anti-Semitism, but this resolution as changed up over the last hour now condemns just about everything, and the reason that is so dangerous is that anti-Semitism, hatred for the children of Israel, is a very special kind of hatred that should never be watered down.”

Several Republicans compared the Democrats’ handling of the Omar statements with the way the GOP leadership dealt with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who was reprimanded by name and excluded from committee assignments after making comments interpreted as sympathetic to white supremacism.

“I hope you’ve seen from the action on this side of the aisle, where we stand,” said Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “We took action before it came to the floor, and it wasn’t simply, ‘please apologize.’”

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), who is Jewish, said that if Omar was a Republican, she would have been named in the resolution.

“If that member was a Republican, that member’s name would be in this resolution and this resolution would be all about condemning anti-Semitism, and it would be done so forcefully.”

“Let’s talk about a double standard,” Zeldin said. “In January we all came to this chamber, we condemned white supremacy, we named a Republican member, we kicked that member off his committees. He can’t serve on the Small Business Committee – but this member will continue to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”

Zeldin – who also voted against what he later called a “spineless, watered-down resolution filled with moral equivalency and motivated by double standards” – said he did not believe Omar was naïve, as suggested by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I apparently am giving Rep. Omar more credit than the Speaker, because I don’t believe she’s naïve,” he said. “I believe she knows exactly what she’s doing.”

(Pelosi said earlier Thursday she did not think Omar understood the “full weight of her words.” She also said the resolution would not name Omar, “because it’s not about her. It’s about these forms of hatred.”)

Others were upbeat about the resolution, seeing it as a sign of unity.

“The Congressional Black Caucus condemns all forms of white supremacy, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the strongest terms possible,” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who chairs the CBC. “This could have been an issue that sowed further division among the country, but instead has united everyone around our shared values, condemning all forms of bigotry and hatred.” (The CBC was reportedly not enthusiastic about the resolution initiative.)

(Screen capture: C-SPAN)

Rep. Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is Jewish and a vocal supporter of Israel, said he was voting for the resolution, but did not hide his disappointment with it.

“I wish we had had a separate resolution about anti-Semitism. I think we deserved it. I think it was wrong not to have it. I don’t think we should mix everything,” he said.

“But I want to say very clearly and very loudly that anti-Semitism will never be tolerated by me, never be tolerated by this body and no member of Congress should be making anti-Semitic statements. No member of Congress should be saying hurtful things and then not apologizing for them.”

“This resolution is a fine resolution and I will support it,” Engel said, “but I am very disappointed that we weren’t able to have a separate resolution to specifically condemn anti-Semitism and what our colleague said, that really was a very hateful term.”

The 23 Republican “no” votes came from Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Ted Budd (N.C.), Michael Burgess (Texas), Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Chris Collins (N.Y.), Michael Conaway (Texas), Rick Crawford (Ark.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Tom Graves (Ga.), Pete King (N.Y.), Doug LaMalfa (Calif.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Steven Palazzo (Miss.), Mike Rogers (Ala.), Chip Roy (Texas), Gregory Steube (Fla.), Mark Walker (N.C.), Ted Yoho (Fla.) and Lee Zeldin (N.Y.).

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) voted present.

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