Rep. Omar is rebuked by her own party. But what will the consequences be?


    FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2019, file photo, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., listens to President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

    [UPDATE] Wednesday, March 7 10:15 a.m. EST: House Democrats have added a last minute anti-Islamophobia clause to the resolution sparked by Rep. Omar's controversial comments about Israel and have delayed voting until Thursday, after progressives pushed back against the party's initial response.

    WASHINGTON (SBG) – Lawmakers are expected to vote on a resolution introduced by House Democrats condemning anti-Semitism this week, in a public response to repeated comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., regarding U.S. support for Israel.

    The House already voted last month to condemn anti-Semitism in a Republican led effort after after Rep. Omar apologized for a tweet that suggested support for Israel is being bought by groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, according to The New York Times. Last week, she fanned the flames by stating that pro-Israel organizations are pushing “allegiance to a foreign country.” She has not apologized for her most recent statements and has instead defended them on Twitter.

    House Democrats are introducing this new resolution after receiving a request for a response from the Anti-Defamation League, which argued such statements by Rep. Omar perpetuate harmful anti-Semitic stereotypes. Lawmakers are expected to vote on it Wednesday.

    A draft of the resolution “acknowledges the dangerous consequences of perpetuation anti-Semitic stereotypes” and rejects “anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance." The resolution stops short of explicitly mentioning Rep. Omar. This is not the first time in recent memory that a congressperson has been rebuked by their own party. Republicans passed a resolution condemning Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King's racist statements this January. In that case, however, the offending member was listed by name.

    Fellow freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., didn’t exactly follow the party line when it came to her response to the controversy, taking to Twitter to argue Rep. Omar. is being unfairly singled out for rebuke.

    In an interview with Sinclair Broadcast Group, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., suggested both the newly elected Democrats have a lot to learn when it comes to party discipline.

    “I don’t think any of them is intentionally trying to hurt their colleagues, but they are also learning that words have consequences,” said Dingell.

    Democracy for America communications director Neil Sroka expressed concern that one of the potential consequences of actions like the resolution could be "a chill on discussions of American foreign policy among Democrats." Sroka said he doesn't expect Rep. Omar to be silenced by the resolution, and said that some of the questions she has raised including the influence of lobbying on lawmakers deserve consideration.

    “All of us can do a lot better and be a lot more clear about how we talk about folks, but that’s no excuse for avoiding important questions about the work that has to be done to make American foreign policy more in line with our values,” said Sroka.

    Democracy for America has asked lawmakers to pass a comprehensive resolution that condemns all hateful speech, including anti-Muslim harassment Rep. Omar says she has received. The FBI is currently investigating a reported assassination threat against Rep. Omar.

    President Donald Trump has also weighed in on the firestorm, stating that it’s a “dark day for Israel.’

    So far, Democrats haven't pursued more severe punishments that have been suggested including removing Rep. Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.

    Republican strategist and political commentator Ford O’Connell said he doesn’t expect the votes on the resolution to accomplish much.

    “When it comes to firmly worded statements, they are really worth the paper they are printed on,” said O’Connell. “Either she’s going to continue doing this or she’s not going to continue doing this." However, he predicted that Democrats "are going to have to continue playing defense when it comes to whatever she says next."

    O’Connell said such controversies threaten the Democrat’s brand as they fight to regain the White House, especially as Israel has historically enjoyed bipartisan support.

    “This is a real problem for the Democrats and they haven’t quite figured out how to get out of this box yet and they are hoping it doesn’t spread to the eventual 2020 nominee,” said O’Connell, who expects Republicans to use the controversy to make the case that some Democrat party members hold “radical views on Israel.”


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