This wasn’t supposed to be hard.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted on a resolution denouncing hatred. The bill was introduced as Democrats grappled with how to respond to what pro-Israel lawmakers have considered anti-Semitic sentiments expressed by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), but its language encompassed pretty much every form of bigotry prevalent in the United States. All 234 House Democrats voted in favor of the resolution. The same can’t be said for their colleagues across the aisle, 23 of whom voted against the measure condemning white supremacy.
Here they are:
23 House Republicans voted against the anti-hate resolution:
Rep. Steve King voted present.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 7, 2019
The controversy surrounding Omar’s comments began last month when Omar tweeted “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” in pointing out the control the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel PAC, wields over lawmakers. She ultimately apologized for using an anti-Semitic trope, but stood by her criticism. She was accused of anti-Semitism again a few weeks later for comments made during an event at a Washington, D.C., bookstore. “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,” she said. “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 lobbying group that is influencing policies?”
Critics accused Omar of drawing on the trope that American Jews have “dual loyalty” to the United States and Israel. Omar continued to push back against allegations of anti-Semitism. “I am told everyday that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel,” she tweeted. “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.” Nevertheless, she has drawn fierce criticism from Republicans (Trump said Omar should resign) and establishment Democrats. The latter debated privately all week about how to address the issue before introducing H.R. 183 on Thursday.
The Republicans who voted against it ostensibly did so because it was not focused specifically on Omar or anti-Semitism.
Liz CHENEY explains no vote: “While I stand whole heartedly against discrimination outlined in this resolution, the language before the House today did not address the issue that is front and center.”
— Erik Wasson (@elwasson) March 7, 2019
Louie Gohmert says he will vote against the resolution, because it now "defends just about everything" instead of just anti-Semitism.
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) March 7, 2019
Though some pro-Israel Democrats may genuinely be troubled by Omar’s comments, many Republicans appear to be blowing their gaskets in bad faith. President Trump has a long, well-documented history of offensive comments, from indulging several Jewish stereotypes while speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition in 2015, to claiming there were “very fine people” among those marching in the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville. Republicans shrugged.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has been aligning himself with white supremacists and making baldly racist comments for years. He was only reprimanded this year after he publicly questioned why everyone makes such a big deal out of the term “white supremacy.” He remains in Congress, and on Thursday couldn’t even bring himself to vote for the resolution condemning bigotry, instead marking himself as “present.”
Just this week, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) tweeted a dig at Jewish philanthropist Tom Steyer, replacing the “S” with a dollar sign.
And so, on Thursday, 23 Republican lawmakers galaxy-brained themselves into botching what should have been the easiest vote of their careers in Congress. Now, they’re on record as opposing a seven-page resolution that didn’t do much more than declare that anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination and other forms of plain bigotry “are contrary to the values of aspirations of the United States.” On record supporting it is Rep. Omar.