House to vote next week on Islamophobia bill, holding Meadows in contempt
The House is poised to vote next week on a bill authored by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to create a new office within the State Department tasked with combating Islamophobia, and will also vote on a measure to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress, leaders announced Thursday.
House Democratic leaders announced the vote on Omar’s bill, scheduled for Tuesday, as they seek ways to respond to Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Colo.) recent Islamophobic comments suggesting that Omar — one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress — could be a terrorist.
The vote would fall short of progressives’ calls to remove Boebert from her committees, but Democratic leaders are hoping that holding a vote on a bill Omar personally authored will allow the party to present a united front against Islamophobia without going as far as making Boebert the third far-right Republican to be kicked off committees this year.
The House is expected to adjourn later Thursday to accommodate funeral services for former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and won’t return to session until midday Tuesday, when it’s slated to consider the anti-Islamophobia measure, legislation to raise the debt limit a day before the Dec. 15 deadline set by the Treasury Department and a resolution to hold Meadows in contempt for refusing to cooperate with the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), another Muslim lawmaker who’s been leading the negotiations with leadership over a path forward, said those talks are continuing and he’s hoping there’s a stiffer punishment yet to come.
“We don’t know yet” if the Omar bill is the final gesture, Carson said Thursday. “We remain hopeful.”
The debate over how to respond to Boebert’s anti-Muslim comments has divided House Democrats and created a headache for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders.
Omar’s progressive allies, including all the members of the liberal “Squad,” have introduced the resolution stripping Boebert of her committee assignments — the same punishment applied already this year to Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) — and they’re pressing leadership to bring the measure to the floor for a vote.
“We have a responsibility to show this country that bigotry is unacceptable,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday.
But party leaders are leery of that strategy, fearing that it will only amplify Boebert’s bigoted message on the national stage while empowering the first-term firebrand when it comes to raising campaign funds.
Greene, for instance, has become a celebrated figure on the right since the Democrats’ disciplinary actions were taken, bringing in millions of dollars from around the country. And leadership is loath to boost the stature of another conservative rabble-rouser.
“It’s very clear what the incentive is,” said one Democratic lawmaker.
Omar’s bill, which she introduced in October, would specifically create a new special envoy for monitoring and combating Islamophobia. They would lead a new office within the State Department to address the rise in anti-Muslim incidents worldwide.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee, on which Omar serves, is expected to advance the legislation on Thursday ahead of next week’s floor vote.
The leaders of the select committee investigating Jan. 6 signaled this week that they’ll also move to hold Meadows, who served in the House before becoming former President Trump’s chief of staff, in contempt of Congress after he reversed course on testifying before the panel this week.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the panel’s vice chair, said Thursday that Meadows “has turned over many texts from his private cell phone” from Jan. 6 before deciding this week that he would no longer cooperate with the investigation.
The House is also awaiting legislation from the Senate to raise the debt limit. Lawmakers passed a separate bill earlier this week to create a one-time convoluted process allowing the upper chamber to raise the debt limit with a simple majority.
The Senate cleared a key procedural hurdle earlier Thursday for the debt limit process bill, but it’s not clear when the upper chamber will advance legislation to actually address the looming debt limit.
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