Dems' anti-Semitic resolution morphs into 'anti-hate' resolution

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (March 7, 2019) - The House is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution "opposing hate" as Democrats try to move past a controversy over remarks by freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar that deeply split the party and clouded their agenda.

Pelosi: Omar unaware of Israel words impact

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says freshman Democrat Ilhan Omar didn't realize her words about Israel would sound anti-Semitic to some powerful members of Congress.

Omar's comment that a pledge of "allegiance" to the Jewish state is expected of lawmakers sparked enough outrage to split Democrats and throw their agenda into question. Some Democrats wanted a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, while others said that would have unfairly singled out the Minnesota Democrat.

Pelosi told reporters the resolution the House will vote on Thursday will "speak out against anti-Semitism, anti-Islamophobia, anti-white supremacy and all the forms that it takes."

Of Omar, Pelosi said, "I do not believe she understood the full weight of her words. These words have a history and a cultural impact."

Before becoming a member of Congress, she represented District 60B in the Minnesota House where she served as the assistant minority leader and was assigned to three House committees. She holds a BA degree in political science and international studies.

Omar, a Somali-American, is one of two Muslim women in the House.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced the vote at a private morning meeting of House Democrats, according to a spokeswoman.

The move was in part intended to resolve a divide that opened after Omar, D-Minn., made comments about Israel that were seen as anti-Semitic. A Muslim-American, she has been critical of the Jewish state in the past. AP, however, reports Omar has escaped any direct condemnation in the resolution.

Some Jewish lawmakers preferred to keep the resolution tailored to anti-Semitism, while other members who wanted to broaden it to include a rejection of all forms of racism and bigotry. Some proposed two separate resolutions. Others questioned whether a resolution was necessary, and viewed such a move as unfairly singling out Omar at a time when President Donald Trump and others have made disparaging racial comments.

"This shouldn't be so hard," said Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the lead author of a draft resolution to condemn anti-Semitism that did not mention Omar by name.

As Deutch spoke on the House floor Thursday, a new text was being prepared ahead of voting.

The abrupt turn of events come as Democratic leaders try to quickly fend off a challenge from Republicans on the issue.

Democratic leaders worried they could run into trouble on another bill, their signature ethics and voting reform package, if Republicans tried to tack their own anti-Semitism bill on as an amendment.

By voting Thursday, the House Democratic vote counters believe they could inoculate their lawmakers against such a move by passing Democrats' own anti-hate bill.

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