Rep. Steve Scalise: Speaker Pelosi Needs to Remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs Committee

By Melanie Arter | March 5, 2019 | 3:28pm EST
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) (Screenshot)

(CNSNews.com) – House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her latest anti-Semitic remarks.

Speaking at a town hall event in Washington, D.C., last week, Omar suggested that Israel demands allegiance from U.S. lawmakers.

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar said at the event that was also attended by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) called on Omar to apologize, for what he called “a vile, anti-Semitic slur.” He called it “unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the US-Israel relationship.”

Democrats plan to vote Wednesday on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism. The resolution does not specifically mention Omar, according to reports.

However, Scalise told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Tuesday that a resolution is not enough.

“The resolution only addresses a piece of the problem,” Scalise said. “She continues to display anti-Semitic remarks, comments. These are her beliefs, and so if they really are serious about addressing the problem, Nancy Pelosi has to remove her from the Foreign Affairs committee.”

The problem with that, he said, is that the congresswoman is “literally getting intelligence briefings on foreign policy of the United States, including our relationship with Israel as she makes these kind of comments where she thinks any support of Israel is denouncing your own nationality.”

“Where does that come from? It’s a deep-rooted belief that shows the core of her convictions, and again, everybody’s entitled to their beliefs, but why would you have her on a committee that important, that sensitive to our foreign policy if she has those kind of anti-Semitic beliefs unless you’re willing to tolerate it, and it shouldn’t be tolerated. She ought to be removed immediately from the Foreign Affairs Committee,” Scalise said.

Omar has only been in Congress since January, Fox News host Sandra Smith said. “She’s received widespread criticism even from some or many in her own party. She seems to be doubling down on her stance here, and in her latest tweet, she seems to really just be saying she’s not mischaracterizing our relationship with Israel, but she’s questioning it. To that you say, what?” Smith asked.

“First of all, everyone’s entitled to their own beliefs, but if you want to sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee and objectively look at and help set the foreign policy of the United States of America, you shouldn’t have anti-Semitic beliefs, and the way that she describes this relationship, the American-Israel relationship is an incredibly special bond and very bipartisan bond,” the congressman said.

“Our nations have worked together in many cases in tandem on the same kind of foreign policy. When Iran wants to bomb Israel and destroy Israel, they also want to bomb and destroy America. So our foreign policy interests coincide a lot of times, but ultimately, if she has those kind of beliefs that expressing support for Israel is in some kind of way denouncing your American citizenship, I think she needs to get a deeper rooted understanding of the American and Israeli relationship to understand why our two countries are so interlinked on so many issues,” he said.

When asked to comment on Omar’s remarks, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said, “I’m talking to all of my colleagues. This is a very complicated issue. There is nothing complicated about being very clear that we must stand up against anti-Semitism, that we must stand up against it and stand for Israel, but we have to--- this country is being divided by fear and hatred, and it’s not just Jewish community that is feeling attacked.

“I have this unique community, where I have a strong Jewish population in Ann Arbor, and the largest population of Muslims in the country live in my hometown, and they’re feeling attacked every single day too. We are dividing this country with fear and hatred. We’ve all gotta take a deep breath and listen to our language and understand how things that are said are not, maybe meant as they’re interrupted. We gotta protect free speech in this country too, but understand, we are hurting people at times with our language, but we’ve got to protect everybody’s freedom of religion,” she said.

“She’s making the case that she’s just raising questions about American policy. Do you buy that?” Fox News’s Bill Hemmer asked.

“I think for her, that’s her perspective, and I think that we’re all gonna talk to each other a lot about how, what people are hearing in terms of their words. I spent most of the day yesterday talking to Rashida Tlaib, and she has been so clear with me about how important it is to stand up and be against anti-Semitism and be against anti-hatred period in this country,” Dingell said.

“What I know is I’m seeing it in too many places. We have racism in this country. Where has it become so politically acceptable to have all of this kind of hatred against so many people. I want to fight back against every ounce of hatred I’m seeing in this country,” she said.

When asked whether Omar should remain on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Dingell said, “Actually, I am told that the chair feels that she brings a different perspective to the committee, and while I know he’s been upset by her comments, knows that a strong committee has all kinds of different perspectives.”

Dingell also condemned an anti-Muslim poster displayed at the West Virginia statehouse that linked Omar to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and asked why there wasn’t more outrage.

“So you know, can I ask a question? Why wasn’t everybody upset when we saw what happened in West Virginia last Friday where they called her a terrorist?” Dingell asked.

She said her father-in-law, John Dingell Sr., “was one of the original sponsors of the Israel legislation in the early 50s.”

“He was one of the strongest supporters of Israel that there was, and I think we can never forget what happened in Germany, but when we’ve got a state legislature that’s putting up posters and spreading hatred against someone simply because they’re a Muslim. That’s not okay either,” Dingell said.

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