The House on Tuesday passed an anti-Islamophobia bill weeks after Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert falsely implied that her Muslim Democratic colleague was a terrorist.
The bill was led by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, the target of Boebert’s remarks, and it would create a special envoy to monitor and fight Islamophobia domestically and internationally. It passed 219-212, along party lines.
“As a country that was founded on religious liberty, our leadership on international religious freedom depends on recognizing that Islamophobia is global in scope and we must lead the global effort to address it,” Omar said.
A push for some type of congressional action came after Boebert joked in late November that Omar was not a threat when the two shared an elevator because she was not wearing a backpack, implying that she could have been a suicide bomber. These remarks were widely condemned, but after Boebert apologized, a conversation between her and Omar quickly disintegrated into each demanding a public apology from the other.
About a week later MSNBC unearthed another video where Boebert called Omar a “terrorist,” renewing calls for a congressional response.
Boebert’s comments also led to a fresh round of Republican infighting, most notably between South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, who “100%” condemned Boebert’s comments, and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Boebert ally who called Mace “trash in the GOP conference” for speaking out in the first place.
The preferred response, however, varied among members. A group of Omar’s House allies led by Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley introduced a resolution Wednesday to formally censure Boebert and strip her of her two committees, though Democratic leadership neither explicitly endorse the effort nor taken it off the table.
“I’ve had a conversation with [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] and I’m very confident that she will take decisive action next week,” Omar said earlier in December. “As you know, when I first got to Congress, I was worried that, you know, I wasn’t going to be allowed to be sworn in because there was a ban on the hijab. She promised me that she’d take care of it. She fulfilled that promise. She made another promise to me that she will take care of this, and I believe her.”
While Republicans also flatly condemned Islamophobia and all forms of religious bigotry, many objected to the bill brought Tuesday because it did not explicitly define what “Islamophobia” meant.
“Democrats voted down an amendment to exclude legitimate criticism of what counts as Islamophobia,” said Ohio Republican Rep. Steve Chabot. “Is it Islamophobic to criticize those who call for the destruction of Israel? What about the Taliban’s repression of women or those who deny the Holocaust?” he later added.
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