Dem leader says party won't be lectured on anti-Semitism by McConnell

Dem leader says party won't be lectured on anti-Semitism by McConnell
© Stefani Reynolds

The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus fired back at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDC statehood push faces long odds despite record support Overnight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday for suggesting that some freshman Democrats were engaging in anti-Semitism.

It came as the House prepares to consider a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and hate broadly in the aftermath of Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarGOP Senate candidate said Republicans have 'dual loyalties' to Israel Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Omar asks Twitter what it's doing in response to Trump spreading 'lies that put my life at risk' MORE (D-Minn.) making remarks critical of Israel.

When asked about the resolution on Tuesday, McConnell said: “Now, this is a good time for America to think again about anti-Semitism. It seems to be more fashionable in Europe, it seems to be more fashionable in this country, regretfully, among at least some members of the new class in the House.”

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In response, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesBadrun Khan to challenge Ocasio-Cortez in Democratic primary Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump MORE (N.Y.) pointed to what he described as “hateful remarks” made by President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE.

“When has he ever said anything about the hateful remarks that continue to float out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.? When has he ever said anything about that? So, we're not going to be lectured by Mitch McConnell on anything, and that shameless behavior must be discontinued,” Jeffries told reporters.

“Let me just generally say: There is not a rise of anti-Semitism in the House of Representatives, there is a rise of anti-Semitic behavior and activity and violence in the country. And, it's irresponsible for Mitch McConnell to try to politicize this issue,” Jeffries said.

Freshman Rep. Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerTen notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment Centrist House Democrats press for committees to follow pay-go rule Gun debate to shape 2020 races MORE (D-Va.), who represents a swing district, similarly rejected McConnell's argument.

“I think a man who hasn't met any of us can't really comment on the positions of the freshman class,” Spanberger said.

“I think that it is incredibly detrimental to the cause of fighting such a scourge that someone would seek to, in fact, politically capitalize on this terrible trend and increase that we've seen throughout some of our communities,” she said.

Omar has faced criticism from fellow Democrats for saying at a forum last week that pro-Israel advocates try to accuse critics of anti-Semitism to shut down debate. 

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar said. “I want to ask, why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the [National Rifle Association], of fossil-fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby that is influencing policy?”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse chairman reaches deal on classified briefing with Trump's Afghanistan negotiator Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine House chairman subpoenas Trump's Afghanistan negotiator MORE (D-N.Y.), who is Jewish, issued a statement accusing Omar of “invoking a vile anti-Semitic slur” of dual loyalty, calling her comments “outrageous and deeply hurtful.”