- After days of internal wrangling among Democrats over how to respond to statements about Israel by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) which infuriated Jewish lawmakers in both parties, the U.S. House on Thursday approved a wide-ranging resolution denouncing hatred and bigotry against a variety of groups, but not directly naming and rebuking Omar for her comments.
"The words spoken by our colleague from Minnesota touched a very real, a very raw place for me," said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), who joined others in making clear they wanted a more specific message to Omar, who was just elected in November.
"One thing we are all reminded of this week is that words have power, and divisive words have pain," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).
"This resolution doesn't need to be seven pages. It's just wordy," said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), as GOP lawmakers said Democrats had twisted themselves into a legislative pretzel, instead of just addressing what was said by Omar.
"It didn't have to be this hard," said House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), after Democrats made several last minute changes to the resolution.
The vote on the resolution was 407 to 23, with one member voting ‘Present.’ All the votes against the measure were from Republicans.
“Yes, I voted against a sham resolution, which while condemning anti-semitism, was designed to cover Rep. Omar’s repeated anti-Semitic statements,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX).
“If the Democratic Caucus wants to truly condemn hatred, they would take action by formally condemning Rep. Omar by name and by removing her from her committees,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), another one of the “No” votes.
Voted NO on politically correct weakened Resolution which failed to specifically condemn recent hateful anti-Semitic statements by Member of Congress. Shameful backdown. Resolution replete w so much moral equivalency to mean nothing. Sad day for Congress. Victory for hate speech!— Rep. Pete King (@RepPeteKing) March 7, 2019
“Without naming the offender, the chastisement is an empty gesture,” said Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). “I voted “no” to the watered down resolution.”
“I voted for this watered down resolution condemning all hate,” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) wrote on Twitter. “But the remarks by their members deserve to be specifically called out & voted on.”
23 Rs voted No on anti-hate resolution— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) March 7, 2019
Cheney-WY,GOP Conf Chair
Omar did not join in the debate; she did vote for the resolution.
"We are here today because of anti-Semitic rhetoric said by one member of this chamber, again and again and again," said Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who was one of almost two dozen Republicans who voted against the resolution, desiring something more direct.
"We now have a pattern," said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) about statements by Omar about Israel.
“We are having this debate right now because of objections by Democrats about something said by a Democrat,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
"I feel confident [Ilhan Omar's] words were not based in an antisemitic attitude, but that she didn't have a full appreciation of how they landed on other people where these words have a history and cultural impact that might have been unknown to her," Pelosi said pic.twitter.com/ak3O895zb6— POLITICO (@politico) March 7, 2019
On the House floor, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the controversy should serve as a reminder to lawmakers, that “our words are weightier, once we cross the threshold into Congress.”