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House Foreign Affairs chairman says he won't remove Omar from committee




House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday said that he will not remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from his committee over controversial comments made by the Minnesota freshman.





"No, I'm not close to it," Engel said when asked on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" if he would remove Omar from the committee.


"First of all, it's not up to me. This is done by the leadership. I don't know that that would do anything except exacerbate the situation even more. I'm looking to get rid of anti-Semitism, not looking to punish anybody."


Engel was pressed on the possibility of removing Omar following comments she made last week which he has called anti-Semitic.


"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," Omar said at an event last week at Busboys and Poets restaurant in Washington, D.C.


"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 lobby that is influencing policy?" she said in reference to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).


Engel pushed back on the comments, saying that it was unacceptable to question someone's loyalty over their support for Israel and called for Omar to apologize.


"I welcome debate in Congress based on the merits of policy, but it's 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," Engel said in a statement following Omar's comments.


"Her comments were outrageous and deeply hurtful, and I ask that she retract them, apologize, and commit to making her case on policy issues without resorting to attacks that have no place in the Foreign Affairs Committee or the House of Representatives."


House Democratic leaders are set to vote Thursday on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism that does not call out Omar by name.


This is not the first time the Minnesota Democrat has been embroiled in controversy over remarks labeled as anti-Semitic.


In two now-deleted tweets, Omar last month wrote that U.S. politicians' defense of Israel was "all about the Benjamins baby," while adding that AIPAC was funding lawmakers who criticized her stance.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other top Democrats issued a joint statement condemning those remarks and calling for Omar to apologize, which she did.



Chris Mills Rodrigo | The Hills

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