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House to vote Thursday on anti-Semitism resolution

House to vote Thursday on anti-Semitism resolution
© Greg Nash
The House is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution broadly condemning hate in the wake of freshman Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarProgressives push White House to overturn wage ruling Mehdi Hasan gets MSNBC Sunday prime-time show Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE’s (D-Minn.) critical comments about Israel.
 
House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThis week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback House set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package Key Democrat unveils plan to restore limited earmarks MORE (D-Md.) announced at a closed-door whip meeting on Thursday morning that the resolution would come up later in the day.

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The resolution, which was released Thursday afternoon and does not mention Omar by name, states that the House "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."
 
It also "condemns anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against all minorities as contrary to the values of the United States" and "condemns the death threats received by Jewish and Muslim Members of Congress."
 
Omar has faced threats in recent weeks, including one that is now being investigated by the FBI.
 
The resolution further makes a nod to discrimination beyond anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, stating that white supremacists have targeted "traditionally persecuted peoples, including African Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants, and others with verbal attacks, incitement, and violence."
 
An initial draft of the resolution obtained by The Hill on Monday focused on anti-Semitism, stating that the House "rejects anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance," while noting that Muslims have faced similar accusations of dual loyalty.
 
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A number of liberals and members of key minority caucuses had balked at the possibility of singling out Omar and called for broadening the resolution to include different kinds of hate, including Islamophobia.

They pointed to a poster on display at the West Virginia statehouse last week that linked Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress last year, to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
 
Staff for Democratic leaders began drafting a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism over the weekend in response to Omar.

“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 at a forum at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., last week. “I want to ask, why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil-fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby that is influencing policy?”
 
Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote Clinton, Pelosi holding online Women's Day fundraiser with Chrissy Teigen, Amanda Gorman What good are the intelligence committees? MORE (D-Calif.) said she didn't think Omar meant to sound anti-Semitic.

"I don't believe it was intended in an anti-Semitic way. But the fact is if that's how it was interpreted, we have to remove all doubt," Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said at Thursday's meeting that Democrats should move forward with the resolution to avoid getting hit with a GOP procedural motion about the issue when the chamber passes a campaign finance and voting overhaul bill on Friday, according to a source in the room.

Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkPelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated MORE (Mass.), the Democratic Caucus vice chair, said Democrats wanted to vote on the resolution before passage of the campaign finance and voting rights bill "to put this issue behind us."

House Republicans have successfully exploited a parliamentary proposal known as a motion to recommit multiple times in recent weeks to force tough votes for Democrats. The motions can be sprung on the House at the last minute, such as a GOP proposal to amend Democrats' universal background checks bill last week to require that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is notified if an undocumented immigrant tries to buy a gun.
 
Republicans also offered a measure condemning anti-Semitism in the wake of previous controversial remarks from Omar last month.
 
Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyHouse Democrats press Facebook on role as a 'breeding ground for polarization' Facebook, Google, Twitter CEOs to testify at House hearing on misinformation Democrats introduce measure to boost privacy, security of health data during pandemic MORE (D-Ill.), who is Jewish, expressed frustration that the media was focusing so much on the Omar controversy.

"She is learning important lessons right now. And I just think that it is shameful that it is being exploited, not just by the Republicans but also the press," Schakowsky told reporters.

But some Democrats are frustrated that the resolution is no longer focused on anti-Semitism. Rep. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchEthics watchdog: 'Substantial' evidence GOP lawmaker improperly spent funds, misused position to help brother Three years later, father of Parkland shooting victim calls for meaningful school safety reform LIVE COVERAGE: House debates removing Greene from committees MORE (D-Fla.), who is Jewish and helped craft the resolution, said that Omar's language should be condemned.

He noted it isn't the first time Omar has faced accusations of anti-Semitism. Omar backtracked in January from a 2012 tweet amid the Gaza War saying "Israel has hypnotized the world," as well as from tweets last month suggesting that U.S. lawmakers defending Israel were motivated by campaign donations.

"We are having this debate because of the language of one of our colleagues. Language that suggests that Jews like me who serve in the United States in Congress and whose father earned a Purple Heart fighting the Nazis in the Battle of Bulge, that we are not loyal Americans? Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism?" Deutch said in a speech on the House floor.

"Anti-Semitism is worthy of being taken seriously on its own. It's worthy of being singularly called out."

Rep. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerBipartisan lawmakers call for immediate vote on COVID-19 vaccine distribution package Lawmakers say they are 'targets,' ask to boost security New Jersey lawmakers press for SALT cap repeal in next relief package MORE (D-N.J.), who is also Jewish, said it "would be helpful" if Omar apologized.

"Listen, anti-Semitic comments were made. I think you have to address them quickly," Gottheimer said. "If you question someone's loyalty to the United States of America because of someone's faith, you better address that."
 
—Updated at 1:44 p.m.