House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, frustrated with Democratic leaders’ refusal to rebuke progressive freshmen for what he views as anti-Semitic remarks, said he plans to take action.
Republicans have criticized Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar, both of whom are Muslim, for remarks they’ve made in support of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and against the Israeli government.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders have declined to condemn the Democratic freshmen or their comments — to the frustration of the GOP.
“When they stay silent they’re just as guilty,” McCarthy said.
The California Republican pointed out that Democrats “were very clear” about their views when Rep. Steve King made remarks that seemed to suggest he was supportive of white supremacy — although the Iowa Republican denied that was the intent of his comments.
But Democrats have refused to take action against their own members for offensive comments, McCarthy said. In addition to the anti-Israel comments, the Republican leader referenced, without specificity, comments Tlaib made earlier this year about Trump saying Democrats should “impeach the motherf---er.”
“This will not be the end of this,” McCarthy said. “And if they do not take action I think you’ll see action from myself. ... This cannot sustain itself. It’s unacceptable in this country.”
McCarthy said Democratic leaders have had a window of opportunity to speak out and they have not.
“I think the window has passed,” he said. “If you cannot take action when you first hear the words of what they said then you are susceptible to supporting what they are doing.”
McCarthy declined to specify what action he plans to take, but he emphasized that anti-Semitic rhetoric needs to be stopped before it spreads.
“If it is allowed to happen in the halls in Congress, it would only perpetuate the problem and grow to something much more than we would desire it to be,” he said.
Asked if he sees the Democrats’ comments against Israel as comparable to King’s remarks about white supremacy, McCarthy said, “Yes and more so.”
The House took action against King’s comments by passing a resolution of disapproval generally condemning white supremacy. King voted for the resolution, which only made passing reference to his comments.
Republicans, led by New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, have already drafted a similar resolution to rebuke Tlaib and Omar. It references some of their remarks, and expresses the sense of the House that the body “rejects anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in the United States and around the world.”
McCarthy’s action could be to file that or a similar measure as a privileged resolution, which would trigger a two-day time clock in which the House must hold a vote on it. Democrats could move to table a privileged resolution, however, as a way to prevent a straight up or down vote.