House responds to GOP’s Boebert with Islamophobia bill

Dec 14, 2021, 9:22 AM | Updated: Dec 15, 2021, 6:50 am
FILE - Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks to reporters in the wake of anti-Islamic comments made by R...

FILE - Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks to reporters in the wake of anti-Islamic comments made by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who likened Omar to a bomb-carrying terrorist, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 30, 2021. The House has taken the first formal response to Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert's anti-Muslim remarks by passing a bill to tackle Islamophobia worldwide. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert cracked a racist, Islamophobic joke about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, it wasn’t the first time she mocked the Muslim congresswoman from Minnesota.

Boebert had derided Omar during a House floor debate last month, taunting the Somali-born, Muslim-American immigrant as a member of the “jihad squad” of liberal lawmakers.

The House on Tuesday took the first formal step at a response, with a 219-212 party-line vote to approve legislation sponsored by Omar that would establish a new special envoy position at the State Department to monitor and combat Islamophobia worldwide.

In introducing the debate, Rep. James McGovern, the Democratic chairman of the House Rules Committee, cited surveys showing an uptick of anti-Muslim sentiment nationwide and around the world — and the need for an energetic U.S. response.

McGovern said the House had arrived at this moment because a colleague has “told a completely fabricated story again and again that implies a Muslim colleague is a terrorist … just because they are Muslim.”

Those actions are “a stain on this entire institution,” he said, without naming Boebert, the freshman lawmaker from Colorado. “This House is better than the worst actions of a few here.”

The bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate. But the ordeal provides yet another window onto the state of affairs in the Republican Party left behind by Donald Trump, almost a year after his supporters stormed the Capitol trying to overturn Joe Biden’s election. Republican leaders are unwilling or unable to publicly admonish their own, particularly those allied with Trump, even when their everyday rhetoric borders on racist hate speech.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Tuesday’s vote will not be the last word from the Democratic leaders on Boebert’s behavior.

But they have repeatedly said it’s up to the Republican leadership to stand up to their most outspoken members who cross a line. The Democrats so far have refrained from more punitive actions of censuring Boebert or removing her committee assignments, as they have for other lawmakers — and as some Democrats wanted.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, has not signaled any further steps.

McCarthy, R-Calif., has said he helped engineer a phone call between Boebert and Omar days after the Republican’s remarks came under scrutiny.

And before the call, he said Boebert had apologized.

But her apology — “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended” — fell short for some lawmakers.

Rather than smoothing tensions, the call between Boebert and Omar ended abruptly. Boebert refused Omar’s request for a public apology, and said Omar hung up on her. Omar said in a statement that she ended an unproductive call.

Boebert set off the firestorm around Thanksgiving after a video posted to Facebook showed her telling constituents about an interaction with Omar at a House elevator.

As she stepped on the elevator, Boebert said she spotted Omar. “Well, she doesn’t have a backpack,” Boebert recalled saying, an apparent reference to a suicide bomb. “We should be fine.”

Omar, one of just a few Muslims in Congress and the only lawmaker who regularly wears a religious headscarf, said the scene never happened.

It wasn’t the first time Boebert, the conservative newcomer, has tested the rules of civility.

Last month, Boebert derided Omar as a member of the “jihad squad” during the House debate to censure another Republican, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. He was being reprimanded for having tweeted an animated video depicting the slaying of another member of the so-called “squad” of liberal lawmakers, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Gosar, shortly after the censure vote, reposted the offensive video to his Twitter account.

In many ways, the Republican lawmakers are taking a page from Trump’s playbook. On the campaign trail and in the White House, Trump routinely mocked minority groups, derided certain African countries with a vulgarity, and slapped a ban on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries as one of his early executive actions as president.

Omar, who arrived in the U.S. as a child and now serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke during Tuesday’s debate about the bill, saying that as a country founded on religious liberty, the U.S. must fight against religious persecution of Muslims an others worldwide.

“We must lead the global effort,” she said. “As Americans we should stand united against all forms of bigotry.”

Republican opponents said the bill was too quickly produced, failed to fully define “Islamophobia” and shouldn’t provide special protections for Muslims separate from other religious groups.

One Republican, Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, brought up past statements by Omar that he said were anti-Semitic and supportive of terrorism.

Shortly after taking office in 2019, Omar, who has been critical of Israel, tweeted that some lawmakers are only supportive of the Jewish state for the fundraising money — a comment widely seen as a slur. At the time, she “unequivocally” apologized. Perry also mentioned Omar’s remarks about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that were seen as dismissive but have also been circulated out of context.

Democrats moved to strike Perry’s comments from the record as violating House rules.

Boebert did not speak during the debate.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., co-sponsor of the anti-Islamophobia bill, said of Omar: “She has been subjected to relentless attacks and horrifying threats not just from her fellow Americans, but even within the halls of Congress. And enough is enough.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ethiopia turns over alleged people smuggler to Netherlands

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Ethiopia has turned over to Dutch judicial authorities a 38-year-old Eritrean man suspected of playing a leading role in a major international criminal network that smuggled Eritreans to the Netherlands. “The journey involved brutal violence — migrants were abused and extorted in camps,” prosecutors said in a statement Wednesday after […]
1 day ago
This photo provided by Edmunds shows the 2022 Lucid Air, a luxury electric sedan with an EPA-estima...
Associated Press

Edmunds compares: 2022 Lucid Air vs. Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S has enjoyed a nearly 10-year head start on the premium electric sedan competition, but the gap is beginning to close. There’s a newcomer giving the Model S a run for its money, and it comes from a fellow startup. The 2022 Lucid Air is an all-electric luxury sedan that can compete […]
1 day ago
FILE - Rail workers are seen next to derailed cars at the site of a train accident in Santiago de C...
Associated Press

Trial begins over 2013 train crash that killed 80 in Spain

MADRID (AP) — A trial opened Wednesday over a 2013 train accident in Spain that killed 80 passengers and injured 145. Prosecutors are seeking four-year prison sentences for the train driver and for a former security director at rail infrastructure company ADIF. On July 24, 2013, a long-distance train derailed and crashed against a concrete […]
1 day ago
Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen gives a press conference in front of Marienborg in Copen...
Associated Press

Danish prime minister calls general election for Nov. 1

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Wednesday called a general election for Tuesday Nov. 1, seven months ahead of the end of her term in office. Frederiksen, who has headed the Social Democratic minority government since June 2019, has seen her popularity dwindle in recent weeks due to her role in […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

How company off-sites are changing business travel

Business travel used to mean sending employees from their home office to somewhere else — to meet with clients or coworkers at other offices. But for many remote-first companies, it now means the opposite: Bringing employees together from their far-flung homes to work and meet in person. These so-called “off-sites” — a holdover term from […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Serbian police detain migrant smugglers, find weapons, money

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbian special police on Wednesday raided a makeshift camp near the border with Hungary where they found 200 migrants, detained people smugglers and confiscated weapons and money. The police operation in Srpski Krstur, by the Tisa river that runs along the border with Hungary, comes just two days after Serbia, Hungary […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
House responds to GOP’s Boebert with Islamophobia bill