Resolution condemning anti-Semitism to also condemn anti-Muslim bias
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Tuesday that a resolution condemning anti-Semitism set to come to a vote this week will be updated to include language condemning anti-Muslim bias as well.
Pelosi announced the update along with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer during a meeting of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, according to a Democratic aide.
The resolution is now more likely to come to the House floor for a vote on Thursday rather than Wednesday, the aide said.
The announcement comes as Democrats face pressure to both condemn controversial comments by freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and defend her from anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Pelosi said she had spoken with Omar over the weekend but the California Democrat declined to add details about the conversation.
Since taking office, Omar has not shied away from criticizing the actions of the Israeli government and has done what few members of Congress ever do by openly questioning the United States’ long-standing allied relationship with Israel.
Now, Omar, one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress, is again facing criticism, including from prominent House Democrats, over comments related to Israel.
The latest controversy stems from remarks the congresswoman made at an event in Washington last week, where she said: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says that it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
The remarks generated pushback from two powerful House Democrats, Eliot Engel of New York, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, of which Omar is a member, and Nita Lowey of New York, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Lowey said on Twitter that she feels “saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel.” The congresswoman called on Omar “to retract this statement,” and added that “Anti-Semitic tropes that accuse Jews of dual loyalty … must also be roundly condemned.”
Engel said in a statement that it is “unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Omar’s office has not returned CNN’s requests for comment nor did she answer questions from reporters Tuesday night on the resolution or the criticism she has faced from House Democrats, but the Minnesota lawmaker took to Twitter to defend herself in response to the criticism.
“Our democracy is built on debate, Congresswoman!” Omar tweeted about Lowey’s comments. “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.” Omar added, “I am told everyday that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks.”
Engel and Lowey have also denounced an anti-Muslim poster that recently appeared at a Republican-sponsored public gathering at the West Virginia Statehouse showing a photo of Omar side by side with an image of the World Trade Center towers engulfed in flames as a result of the September 11 terror attacks.
In a tweet, Engel wrote, “Absolutely horrible to see this blatant Islamophobic smear. Bigotry and dog-whistles of all kind are unacceptable. Whether its anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or any kind of hatred, we must call it out when we see it.”
Lowey referenced the poster in a tweet, saying, “Gross Islamophobic stereotypes … are offensive and have no place in political discourse.”