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House passes broad anti-hate resolution after pressure from Omar allies

The House passed a broad resolution condemning hate after backlash from a number of factions across the Democratic Party forced changes to a bill that originally focused on anti-Semitism.

The resolution was initially pushed by the Anti-Defamation League and some Jewish members of Congress who were upset with comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., at a progressive town hall last week. Omar, who had already apologized for remarks saying the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC deployed “the benjamins” to influence policy, told her audience she wanted to “talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

A vote was initially planned for Wednesday on a draft resolution that did not mention Omar by name but condemned anti-Semitism. But the vote was delayed after pushback from members, including the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus, who wanted the resolution to condemn all forms of bigotry.

They got their wish, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday morning that resolution would condemn anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and white supremacy while not naming Omar specifically.

The revised resolution is longer than the draft that was circulated earlier this week and includes a long list of anti-Muslim hate crimes and additional acts of white supremacy. The resolution passed early Thursday evening, with all Democrats voting yes and 23 Republicans voting no over complaints that the bill was too broad. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, voted present.

Pelosi appears eager to put the issue behind her and proceed to consideration of HR-1, the omnibus House bill that addresses voting rights, campaign finance and government reform.

“I thought the resolution should enlarge the issue to anti-Semitism, anti-Islamophobia, anti-white supremacy, and that it should not mention her name, and that’s what we’re working on,” said Pelosi. “Something that is one resolution addressing these forms of hatred not mentioning her name because it’s not about her, it’s about these forms of hatred.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, the third ranking Republican in the House, denounced the measure.

“Today’s resolution vote was a sham put forward by Democrats to avoid condemning one of their own and denouncing vile anti-Semitism,” Cheney said in a statement following her “no” vote.

Omar, a Muslim and a Somali refugee who wears Islamic dress in public, has been a target of racist attacks since winning election in November, as her supporters have noted. Last Friday, the congresswoman’s picture appeared on a sign linking her to terrorism, posted at a meeting of Republicans in the West Virginia statehouse. She’s been defended by her fellow freshmen, notably women of color including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

“We need to have an equity in our outrage,” Pressley, who is a member of both the Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus, said Wednesday. “Islamophobia needs to be included in this. We need to denounce all forms of hate. There is not hierarchy of hurt.”

“[Rep. Omar’s] strength inspires me and so many,” wrote Tlaib, the other Muslim woman in Congress, on Twitter Sunday. “She is being targeted just like many civil rights icons before us who spoke out about oppressive policies. As she uplifts my Sity [referring to her grandmother] and other Palestinians in the name of justice and peace, she shows us real courage.”

More senior members of the Democratic caucus also defended Omar, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who is co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

“I do think we have pushed very hard for this resolution to also include anything around Islamophobia. This is a member of Congress who is being subjected to deeply unfair, in my part, scrutiny around everything she says, at a different level than others,” said Jayapal in an interview Wednesday, adding, “And so, we have been pushing, and we’ve been successful, I think, and I’m grateful to Speaker Pelosi for recognizing that we need to take all of this on.” Read more

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House passes broad anti-hate resolution after pressure from Omar allies