House Ousts Rep. Ilhan Omar From Foreign Affairs Panel
Republicans were comparatively sober as they made the case for removing Ms. Omar.
“Individuals who hold such hateful views should rightly be barred from that type of committee,” said Representative Mike Lawler of New York. “Words matter. Rhetoric matters. It leads to harm, and so the congresswoman is being held accountable for her words and her actions.”
Still, the process of corralling votes to oust Ms. Omar highlighted the challenges Mr. McCarthy faces as he tries to make good on his promised agenda with a razor-thin majority that has already proved to be unruly. The effort stalled and nearly faltered because of the disquiet of some Republicans about being seen as hypocritical after they railed against the removals of Ms. Greene and Mr. Gosar from committees, and about the precedent set by expelling a lawmaker for her views and statements, particularly by a party that routinely condemns “cancel culture.”
In the end, all but one Republican fell in line, with Representative David Joyce of Ohio voting “present,” as he did on Democrats’ resolutions to expel Ms. Greene and Mr. Gosar.
Ms. Omar’s ouster capped off an opening month in the House that has been defined by political jockeying and messaging far more than serious policy ventures. During a history-making struggle to claim the speaker’s gavel, Mr. McCarthy provided a raft of concessions to his hard-right detractors to win their votes and has spent the weeks since paying off those debts, including by placing ultraconservative members on powerful committees and forming a new panel to investigate the “weaponization of government.” The House has also passed an array of legislation — all doomed in the Senate — that would defund I.R.S. enforcement against tax cheats, prosecute some abortion providers and end federal coronavirus vaccine mandates and precautions.
The stage was set this week for Ms. Omar’s expulsion when Representative George Santos of New York — the embattled Republican freshman who has admitted to having misrepresented his background and is facing multiple investigations for fraud and campaign finance violations — announced that he would temporarily remove himself from the House committees on Small Business and Science, Space and Technology, to which he was appointed last month. Mr. Santos had become a lightning rod for accusations of a double standard, as Democrats scorned Mr. McCarthy for protecting him while targeting Ms. Omar, Mr. Schiff and Mr. Swalwell.
But the dam began to break only after Mr. McCarthy agreed to add language to the measure citing lawmakers’ right to appeal such decisions to the Ethics Committee, a mechanism that was already available to them.
“He added explicitly to this resolution to make sure that we apply the same standard not just to Democrats but to Republicans,” Representative Victoria Spartz of Indiana said of Mr. McCarthy during the floor debate, explaining her decision to back the move.
But the gesture was not enough for some other Republicans. Representative Ken Buck of Colorado, one of the more conservative naysayers, exacted a pledge from Mr. McCarthy to strengthen the appeals process for members facing punitive actions in the future, a commitment that won over most of the remaining holdouts.
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