Gaetz undecided on blocking Omar from Foreign Affairs panel

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said he is undecided on whether he will vote to block Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from sitting on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressing concern about censorship of opposing views.

“The reason I think a lot of Republicans want to kick Ilhan Omar off of the Foreign Affairs Committee is because they don’t like what she has to say,” Gaetz said on Newsmax Monday night.

“I am undecided as of tonight as to whether or not I would vote to remove Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, because it’s one thing to do dangerous things to the country with intelligence. It’s quite another to say, ‘I don’t like your viewpoint, and thus I want to remove you,’” Gaetz said. “I don’t support that with DirecTV and Newsmax. I didn’t support it when it was directed at my friend and colleague, [Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

Gaetz’s uncertainty on the issue is adding to a whip count problem for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) fulfilling his longtime promise of removing Omar from the panel over remarks that many Republicans have said are antisemitic. Omar has apologized for those comments.

Three House Republicans — Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.), Victoria Spartz (Ind.) and Nancy Mace (S.C.) — have indicated that they will not support blocking Omar from the committee.

McCarthy has already moved to unilaterally block Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee. But he will need the support of a majority of the whole House to block Omar. If all Democrats support Omar, he can only afford to lose four Republican votes.

The timing of a vote to remove Omar from the committee is uncertain, as the opposition along with GOP absences — Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) will be out for several weeks recovering from a serious fall, for instance — creates a math problem for GOP leadership.

Gaetz said that he views the situation with Schiff and Swalwell differently.

“She didn’t say that Trump was a Russian agent based on information from a particular committee that was just totally bogus,” Gaetz said.

“We shouldn’t lump Omar and Schiff and Swalwell together in one bucket. Very different with the Intelligence Committee,” Gaetz said.

McCarthy removed Schiff from the Intelligence panel over objections to how he handled investigations into former President Trump, accusing him of misrepresenting what he found in the probe. And Republicans charge that Swalwell’s connection to a suspected Chinese spy who was associated with his 2014 campaign makes him a security risk.

Schiff has brushed off McCarthy’s reasoning as political retribution, while Swalwell has noted that he cooperated with the FBI once he was alerted to the suspected spy.

Gaetz suggested that Omar be subject to a House Ethics Committee process if there is reason to believe she has brought discredit on the House. But he also said that he wants to give deference to McCarthy. 

Updated at 9:02 a.m.

Tags Adam Schiff Adam Schiff Donald Trump Eric Swalwell Ilhan Omar Ilhan Omar Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy Matt Gaetz Matt Gaetz

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