Ilhan Omar slams Kevin McCarthy, cites Somali birth as reason not to be pulled from committees

As Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) faces the possibility of newly-elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) fulfilling a promise to keep her off committees, the congresswoman attempted to get ahead of the public rebuke by slamming the leader as hypocritical.

(Video: MSNBC)

Though no one likely would have guessed it would take 15 rounds of voting to elect McCarthy, for weeks he had been the presumptive successor to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as speaker, and for just as long he had been broadcasting his intentions on how he would get the 118th Congress underway. Part of his plan included a promise to withhold Democratic members like California Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff from committees they were considered unfit for and Sunday, Omar responded to her own position being on the chopping block.

Filling in as host on MSNBC’s “Yasmin Vossoughian Reports,” Richard Lui asked, without touching on the nature of her comments that lead to the expected decision, “have you heard anything in terms of being removed from committees?”

“I have not,” the Minnesota politician replied before giving a summary of how the week in Congress was expected to go. “It’s my understanding that we obviously have to get the rules package done. Hopefully, Monday, when we reconvene, that is on top of the agenda, and then the different caucuses, our caucus and their conference, will make appointments to committees, and then we will go from there.”

However, instead of moving off the subject, Omar took the opportunity to fire a salvo at McCarthy and continued, “I do have to say for a speaker that has faced historic humiliation–that had gotten elected after 15 rounds, surpassing a record that was set, you know, pre-Civil War–there is an opportunity here, as he has said to not do things in the way in which it has been done before.”

Referencing her Somalian birth, the progressive Democrat then asserted, “I think it would be hypocritic [sic] for him to remove, you know, the first African born on subcommittee on Africa on the Foreign Affairs Committee, where I’ve had the opportunity to not only represent my constituents but the voice of so many people who have never had a voice on the Foreign Affairs Committee.”

This is not the first time that Omar has taken a shot at McCarthy over this possibility as, in November, she had leveled that “From the moment I was elected, the Republican Party has made it their mission to use fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism to target me on the House Floor and through millions of dollars of campaign ads.”

What the representative failed to acknowledge was that at the same time that McCarthy was promising to keep her specifically off of the Foreign Affairs Committee because of alleged antisemitic remarks and overtly anti-American positions, not necessarily all committees as he had been consistent on since 2021, he was also seeking to withhold other controversial Democrats from specific committees.

As reported, then-House Minority Leader McCarthy had stated, “One thing I said from the very beginning, Eric Swalwell cannot get a security clearance in the public sector. Why would we ever give him a security clearance and the secrets to America? So, I will not allow him to be on [the House Intelligence Committee].”

“You have Adam Schiff, who lied to the American public time and again–we will not allow him to be on the [Intelligence] Committee either,” he went on and added, “Look at Congresswoman Omar, her antisemitic comments that have gone forward. We’re not going to allow her to be on Foreign Affairs.”

Kevin Haggerty


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