Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) on Friday said he is opposed to blocking Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from sitting on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, becoming the latest GOP lawmaker to voice opposition to Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) plan.
“I think that we should not engage in this tit for tat,” Buck told NBC on Friday. “I am opposed to … the removal of Congresswoman Omar from committees.”
Buck’s opposition could spell trouble for McCarthy, who has long promised to remove Omar from that committee, as well as block Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee.
McCarthy formally blocked Schiff and Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee earlier this week, but he will take a full vote of the House to approve assignments for the Foreign Affairs panel.
“I have a little bit less certainty about Congressman Schiff and Swalwell on Intelligence, because it’s a little bit different than a regular committee, but I’m gonna think through that and make a decision,” Buck said.
Republicans say that Omar’s previous comments have crossed the line into anti-Semitism and should disqualify her from sitting on the committee. But it is also seen as payback for Democrats removing GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) from committees in 2021, as well as blocking two of McCarthy’s picks for the select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots.
In a slim House majority, McCarthy will only be able to spare a handful of votes in order to keep her off the panel, and the vocal opposition suggests he could have trouble getting there.
Rep. Victoria Sparta (R-Ind.) also said this week that she opposes removing Omar.
“Two wrongs do not make a right,” Sparta said in a statement. “As I spoke against it on the House floor two years ago, I will not support this charade again.”
And Rep. Nancy Mace (RS.C.) is undecided on removing Omar, but expressed disapproval of the idea.
“I’m not going to be a hypocrite just because Republicans are in the majority now,” Mace told reporters Wednesday morning.
Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) also said this week that he is undecided on removing Omar, while Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) has not revealed how he plans to vote and noted that there is no official resolution on Omar’s removal yet.
Further complicating the math, though, are some Democrats who have yet to say if they will support or oppose Omar’s removal.
Res. Josh Gottheimer (DN.Y.), Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) have declined to comment on the matter or not made up their minds, Jewish Insider reported. Gottheimer is waiting for resolution text before commenting, and Moskowitz said he will decide the issue when it comes up on the floor.
As some House Republicans express hesitance about punishing Omar, the Republican National Committee moved ahead on a separate rebuke on Friday. A resolution passed at the RNC’s winter meeting that condemned antisemitism specifically listed multiple figures, including rapper Ye, white nationalist Nick Fuentes and Omar.
Mychael Schnell contributed.