Kevin McCarthy's bid to oust Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs in peril as third GOP rep.  items

Kevin McCarthy’s bid to oust Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs in peril as third GOP rep. items

Rep. Ken Buck in Washington, DC, US, on Jan. 11. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) on Friday joined a group of House Republicans opposed to kicking Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) off the Foreign Affairs Committee, putting the high-profile effort dangerously close to failing.

Why it matters: It could lead to another destabilizing loss for Republicans on the House floor just weeks after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) took 15 bales to capture the speaker’s gavel amid defections from his party.

Driving the news: Buck, a member of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, told NBC News’ Chuck Todd he is against Republicans removing Democrats like Omar from their committees.

  • “I think that we should not engage in this tit-for-tat,” Buck said.
  • Buck’s office confirmed his plans to vote no, telling Axios he “right now wouldn’t support the removal of Rep. Omar” from the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Catch-up quick: House Democrats on Friday unanimously approved a list of committee assignments for their members that keeps Omar on Foreign Affairs after she applied to stay on.

By the numbers: With a 5-vote margin and Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) unable to vote as he recovers from an accident, McCarthy is dangerously close to falling short of the GOP votes he needs.

  • Buck is the third House Republican to say they oppose removing Omar, along with Reps. Nancy Mace (RS.C.) and Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.).
  • Democrats, for their part, are likely to form a united front. “We are still doing the work but confident, all factions of the caucus are united against the attempt to remove her,” a Democratic leadership aide told Axios.
  • McCarthy will need to run the table with those Republicans who remain undecided, including Biden-supporting district Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), the chair of the moderate Republican Governance Group.

The big picture: The heated partisan conflict over committee assignments began in 2021, when Democrats and a small number of Republicans voted to remove Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) from their panels.

  • Republicans said at the time that the move set a new precedent and vowed to take revenge.
  • Making good on that promise, McCarthy this week formally removed Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee, a move some of the House Speaker’s caucus members opposed and a stark escalation in an ongoing tit-for-tat with Democrats over committee assignments .

What he’s saying: After saying he’s opposed to Omar’s removal, Buck added: “I have a little bit less certainty about Congressman Schiff and Swalwell on Intelligence just because it’s a little bit different than a regular committee. But I’m going to think through that and make a decision.”

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