House votes to take stand against anti-Semitism in an unexpected way

Language on anti-Semitism was added to Yemen resolution through a surprising Republican motion

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., swears in members in the Capitol's House chamber on the first day of the 116th Congress on Jan. 3, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to take a stand against anti-Semitism in all forms and did it in an unexpected way.  

The vote was surprising because the language was added to an unrelated resolution on removing U.S. armed forces assisting the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen through a Republican motion to recommit. The motion to recommit is a procedural tool of the House minority, and it is typically used to message against a measure offered by the majority.

The motion to recommit was adopted, 424-0, with two members voting present. The Yemen resolution passed 248-177.

The amendment added through the motion to recommit says “it is in the national security interest of the United States to combat anti-Semitism around the world because,” and then lists a few reasons. One of the reasons is “there has been a significant amount of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hatred that must be most strongly condemned.”

Most of the time, motions to recommit would send a bill back to committee, effectively killing the bill before a vote, and thus are usually rejected.

However, the motion to recommit Republicans offered to the Yemen resolution Wednesday was not a stall tactic. It simply reported the resolution back to the House floor with the added language rejecting anti-Semitism.

Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot Engel spoke in favor of the GOP’s motion to recommit and Democrats followed suit in voting for it, despite an earlier notice from the majority leader’s office urging Democrats to vote against it.

The vote comes as Republicans and Democrats both condemned comments Rep. Ilhan Omar made on social media Sunday. The tweets, which Omar apologized for, suggested donations from the pro-Israel lobby are why lawmakers support the country. It was seen as an anti-Semitic trope.

Watch: Trump calls on Rep. Ilhan Omar to resign

Republicans had been criticizing Omar for what they perceived to be anti-Semitic remarks for weeks before her tweets, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy promising House action. After Omar’s Sunday tweets, McCarthy said that action would come this week.

McCarthy’s spokeswoman said after the motion to recommit was approved that Republicans are not planning further action.

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