House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer Defends Ilhan Omar After GOP Moves to Censure Her

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is defending U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar as the Minnesota Democrat again faces backlash over remarks she's made about Israel and the United States.

Republicans have pushed for Omar, who is Muslim, to be censured over remarks she made in a tweet last week in which she highlighted "unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban," in reference to an exchange she had with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"I asked @SecBlinken where people are supposed to go for justice," she tweeted.

In a follow-up statement, she said hadn't intended to make "a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel."

But critics have seized on the comment lumping in the United States and Israel with terrorist organizations like Hamas and the Taliban.

House Republican leaders, who are hoping to regain the majority in midterm elections, have already plotted a response to Omar's comments, and other lawmakers have formally filed legislation to publicly censure her.

"I hope the Republicans don't do it. I will urge my members not to do it," Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, told Newsweek and other reporters Tuesday.

The Democratic leaders of the House already publicly rebuked Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene earlier this year over controversial comments she's made targeting Democratic lawmakers, including Omar. Without support from the GOP leadership, Greene was stripped of her committee assignments.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican who respresents California, has threatened to respond in kind.

"I will promise you this: If we are fortunate enough to have the majority, Omar would not be serving on Foreign Affairs, or anybody that has an antisemitic, anti-American view," he said during a Fox News appearance Tuesday.

It's the latest incident where Omar, a Somali refugee, has faced accusations of antisemitism, which she has denied repeatedly.

Hoyer and other Democratic leaders signed a joint statement last week defending Omar.

"Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate. And indeed, such criticism is essential to the strength and health of our democracies. But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all," read the statement signed by Hoyer; Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Majority Whip Jim Clyburn; Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark; Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries; and Caucus Vice Chair Pete Aguilar.

"We welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban."

Ilhan Omar
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 9: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks during a press conference at Black Lives Matter Plaza calling for an end to U.S. support for a Saudi Arabia-led blockade of Yemen on April 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. Republicans have pushed for Omar, who is Muslim, to be censured over a recent tweet in which she highlighted "unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban." Drew Angerer/Getty Images/Getty Images