House

Dem leader calls on GOP to 'cleanse' itself after Boebert comments

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday urged GOP leaders to discipline Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) for recent Islamophobic comments she made against a Democratic House colleague.

Hoyer said Boebert's suggestion that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of the first Muslim women to enter Congress, poses a dangerous threat fits a larger "pattern" of racist demagoguery within the GOP ranks.

He urged Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to rein in such rhetoric for fear that, left unchecked, it could inspire acts of violence, particularly against minorities.

"It's a pattern, and so that makes it even more concerning. It's particularly concerning because it inflames ... the passions of people who then convert words into dangerous, threatening and harmful actions. And that's why this conduct is so reprehensible and dangerous," Hoyer said on a press call.

"Hopefully, the Republican Party and its leadership itself would take direct action to cleanse itself from this toxic kind of conduct that its members are pursuing."

Hoyer left open the possibility that Democratic leaders might take that disciplinary step themselves, as they've done this year with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who were both stripped of their committee assignments.

"We're considering what action ought to be taken," Hoyer said.

But with GOP leaders already eyeing retribution against Democrats if the House flips in next year's midterms, Democratic leaders are also treading carefully into the Boebert dust-up, preferring that Republicans take steps internally to reprimand the firebrand freshman Coloradan.

Her comments "should be sanctioned, not only by the Republican leadership, but by Republicans in general and by the American people," Hoyer said.

Boebert stirred a firestorm of controversy over the long Thanksgiving weekend when a video surfaced of her telling a crowd in her district that a ride in an elevator with Omar "should be fine" because Omar "doesn't have a backpack."

Omar denied that the elevator encounter ever took place, and the two feuding lawmakers lawmakers spoke by phone Monday - a tense call that ended with both sides accusing the other of incivility.

Hoyer on Tuesday said that McCarthy had called him to facilitate the call, but after talking to Omar, Hoyer had advised against it.

"I called Mr. McCarthy back and I said I don't think that would be a productive conversation," Hoyer said. "That was the last I heard about tit until Mr. McCarthy called me again and said that they had talked."

Hoyer went on to lament that there appears to be a financial incentive for lawmakers to invoke racist or violent imagery in the Capitol and on the campaign trail - a strategy which "raises them money because it's confrontational and demeaning to others," Hoyer said.

"It's sad that that raises them money," he added, "but I think that's what their MO apparently appears to be."

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