The House of Representatives will vote this afternoon on a broad resolution to condemn hateful speech and expression, including both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
The vote comes after first-term member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) sparked controversy with her comments on Israel. The initial resolution, which some senior Democrats began drafting in the wake of her latest comments over the weekend, condemned only anti-Semitism and was seen as a direct reprimand to Omar, who is Muslim.
But after a backlash from Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus members who questioned why Democrats were chastising Omar in the age of Donald Trump, Democrats drafted a second resolution. Neither mentioned Omar by name, but the second one was updated to include a condemnation of Islamophobia and white supremacy, making clear it was about more than her comments.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters on Tuesday, March 5, that Omar’s name did not need to be included in the text of the resolution.
“It’s not about her, it’s about these forms of hatred,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference on Thursday.
Pelosi, who spoke with Omar this weekend over the phone, said she does not plan to make the representative formally apologize for her latest comments. Pelosi added she did not believe Omar intended her remarks to be anti-Semitic, although they were perceived that way by some members.
“It’s up to her to explain, but I do not believe she understood the full weight of the words,” Pelosi said. “I feel confident her words were not based on any anti-Semitic attitude, but that she didn’t have a full appreciation for how they landed.”
There’s another reason House leaders are eager to vote on the resolution today; they have a big vote coming up on Friday on HR 1, the sweeping anti-corruption bill that was their first bill of the year. This is Democrats’ signature issue, and they do not want the bill’s vote marred by continued infighting.
But whether the issue goes away so easily remains to be seen.
What’s in the final resolution
Not long after the House passed a resolution condemning Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for his repeated white supremacist rhetoric, the new resolution condemns both anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim discrimination as “hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States.”
It contains lengthy definitions of anti-Semitism and anti-Islamic rhetoric, and blanket condemnations for attacks against both communities in the United States, as well as hateful speech and expression.
But the resolution also contains a section appearing to refer to the kind of language Omar was using this weekend. Though Omar didn’t explicitly refer to Israel in her latest comments, she said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
In full context, Omar doesn’t explicitly identify who or what this “political influence” is coming from. But given her previous comments, the latest remarks struck many observers as playing into well-worn anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish attachments to Israel making them disloyal to the United States.
“Be it resolved the House of Representatives rejects the perpetuation of anti-Semitic stereotypes in the United States and around the world, including the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance, especially in the context of support for the United States-Israel alliance,” the resolution reads.
You can read the full text of the resolution here.