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Dems mobilize to defend Omar in face of GOP defections

“She would be the first to inform you that we each disagree on loads of issues. I really like Israel, and I’ll defend it wholeheartedly. She’s deeply troubled by the Israeli authorities. However that doesn’t imply that there shouldn’t be a voice on the Overseas Affairs Committee, even whether it is painful for me,” stated Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips — a Jewish Democrat who previously spoke out in opposition to a few of her remarks, for which she later apologized.

Requested about whether or not his Democratic colleagues would come to the identical conclusion: “I believe some are struggling, however I in the end imagine sure.”

Taking Omar off panels solely requires a easy majority vote, however even that might show tough for a Home GOP with a traditionally slim margin — and a second public defector rising Tuesday, as Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) joined Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) in declaring that she wouldn’t vote for yanking Omar.

Democrats are privately lobbying different Republican members of the Overseas Affairs panel to oppose Omar’s elimination. Centrist Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Omar’s anticipated counterpart on a Overseas Affairs subpanel, are seen as high prospects, in line with a number of Democrats aware of the scenario. Smith declined to remark, citing his concentrate on a well being subject.

One other panel member, Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), was nonetheless undecided, he informed POLITICO. And Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) was additionally undecided, in line with an individual aware of his considering.

If simply two extra Republicans promise to vote in opposition to booting Omar, it’ll mark a humiliating defeat for GOP leaders on a precedence they’ve broadcasted for years — additional rattling a convention that’s nonetheless making an attempt to counter the narrative that it’s too divided to perform a lot over the following two years.

Highly effective Democratic blocs just like the Progressive Caucus, the place Omar serves in management, and the Congressional Black Caucus are anticipated to rally behind the Minnesotan, a high-profile liberal who’s the common topic of intense vitriol and even dying threats. Omar had been evacuated to a safe location together with congressional leaders in the course of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

“It’s ridiculous,” Black Caucus Chair Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) stated in a short interview. “We assist Rep. Omar. She’s an efficient legislator who deserves to keep up her seat and we’re gonna proceed to symbolize her and different members who’re getting used as political pawns within the Republican payback.”

The furor over Omar’s feedback on Israel started simply weeks after she got here to Congress 4 years in the past. A number of of her fellow Democrats have been enraged by tweets that appeared to lean into antisemitic tropes, implying that lawmakers’ assist for Israel was pushed by marketing campaign donations from pro-Israel teams. These tweets have been deleted, and Omar apologized. (Phillips was considered one of a number of members who had a one-on-one dialog along with her concerning the tweets, and he stated they each made it some extent to proceed their relationship.)

She additionally drew conservative backlash later in 2019 for feedback concerning the Sept. 11 terrorist assaults. Omar has stated her feedback have been taken out of context by Republican critics. Two years later, Omar induced one other public rift inside her celebration with feedback that appeared to equate the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban whereas discussing struggle crimes — remarks she additionally shortly sought to make clear.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), considered one of a number of Jewish Democrats beforehand vital of Omar for the Hamas comparability, stated: “There’s no motive to take away Congresswoman Omar from her committees besides revenge. … We eliminated Congressman [Paul] Gosar and [Marjorie] Taylor Greene as a result of they threatened violence in opposition to different members, together with dying. That isn’t something that Congresswoman Omar did.”

Requested if she thought all Democrats could be united behind Omar, Wasserman Schultz stated, “After all, however we’re simply going to take this one step at a time.”

Democrats are emphasizing the variations between Omar’s scenario and the 2 Republicans faraway from committees in 2021 by separate, bipartisan Home votes. Practically a dozen Republicans agreed to take away Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) from her committee posts for incendiary rhetoric in opposition to her fellow members of Congress, and two Republicans voted to take away Gosar (R-Ariz.) from his committees over a violent social media put up through which he threatened outstanding Democrats.

Neither of the 2 Republicans who voted to take away Gosar stay in Congress.

“I believe there’s an enormous distinction between coverage disagreements and inciting and inspiring violence in opposition to members of Congress,” stated Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), who sits on Overseas Affairs with Omar and fiercely disputed GOP claims that Democrats began the precedent of eradicating members from committees.

“As a Jewish member of Congress, I take this very significantly,” Jacobs added.

Phillips, for his half, added that it’s a significantly robust determination for some members given the rise in dangerous rhetoric: “Antisemitism is rearing its ugly head. I don’t suppose she’s antisemitic, I believe she’s made some errors. … I imagine that she’s realized from it, and I imply that sincerely.”

Democrats plan to call their very own Overseas Affairs members within the coming days — an project Omar has stated she anticipated Democratic leaders to grant by the top of this week. And given the GOP’s slim margins within the decrease chamber, Democrats are betting they can flip sufficient Republicans to sink any vote on stripping Omar’s committee assignments.

Whereas some Republicans nonetheless haven’t stated how they’ll vote, key moderates like Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) are signaling they may assist eradicating Omar.

“I’ll hearken to the talk and overview feedback she’s made. However, the Dems shouldn’t be shocked by this. Pelosi set a brand new commonplace on how the bulk treats the minority. … Now the brand new minority should dwell by [the] similar commonplace,” Bacon stated in an announcement.

Omar shouldn’t be the one Democrat who will probably be stripped of a committee; Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, each Californians, may even lose their spots on the Home Intelligence Committee. The three members appeared on TV collectively Monday evening, the place they have been dubbed the “McCarthy Three” by MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell. However Omar would be the just one whose committee membership will face a flooring vote, as McCarthy has the facility to take away Intelligence panel members on his personal.

McCarthy on Tuesday rejected Schiff and Swalwell’s appointments to the Home Intelligence Committee, claiming that each had put nationwide safety in danger. Nonetheless, he demurred when requested earlier Tuesday if he had the votes to take away Omar from the Home Overseas Affairs Committee.

The trio stated in a joint assertion Tuesday night it was “disappointing however not shocking that Kevin McCarthy has capitulated to the suitable wing of his caucus, undermining the integrity of the Congress, and harming our nationwide safety within the course of.”

The optics of singling out Omar — a lady of coloration and considered one of Congress’ first Muslim ladies members, who’s set to be the highest Democrat on the Overseas Affairs subpanel overseeing Africa — are prone to be a significant a part of Democrats’ messaging subsequent week.

Olivia Beavers and Jordain Carney contributed to this report.

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