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Rep. Ilhan Omar says Pelosi will take ‘decisive action’ on Boebert’s anti-Muslim rhetoric this week

Omar also called House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy “a liar and a coward” for refusing to publicly condemn Boebert’s remarks

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said on Dec. 5, she expected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to take "decisive action" against Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.). (Video: The Washington Post)
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Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said she is confident House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will take “decisive action” this week against Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) for her anti-Muslim remarks about Omar last month.

“I’ve had a conversation with the speaker, and I’m very confident that she will take decisive action next week,” Omar said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” It is unclear what Pelosi’s “decisive action” would include. Omar said that Boebert should be stripped of her committee assignments and that House leaders should rebuke her to send a “clear and decisive” message.

“I think it’s important for us to say this kind of language, this kind of hate cannot be condoned by the House of Representatives,” Omar said. “If the Republicans are not going to be adults and condemn this … we are going to do that.”

Representatives for Omar’s and Pelosi’s offices did not immediately respond to emailed questions and requests for further comment Sunday.

Omar has been calling for Boebert to be disciplined after video surfaced of the Colorado Republican suggesting at an event in her district over the Thanksgiving break that Omar was a suicide bomber.

“You know, we’re leaving the Capitol and we’re going back to my office and we get an elevator and I see a Capitol Police officer running to the elevator,” Boebert told the crowd. “I see fret all over his face, and he’s reaching, and the door’s shutting, like I can’t open it, like what’s happening. I look to my left, and there she is. Ilhan Omar. And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack, we should be fine.’ ”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) condemned months-long Islamophobic comments from Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) on Nov. 30. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

Boebert apologized “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended” but has declined to publicly apologize to Omar. Instead, the Republican has doubled down on her Islamophobic attacks on Omar, accusing her of “anti-American and antisemitic” rhetoric.

“Make no mistake: I will continue to fearlessly put America first, never sympathizing with terrorists. Unfortunately, Ilhan can’t say the same thing, and our country is worse off for it,” Boebert said in a video she posted to Instagram after a Monday phone call between the two.

Omar said then that she had accepted Boebert’s phone call “in the hope of receiving a direct apology for falsely claiming she met me in an elevator, suggesting I was a terrorist, and for a history of anti-Muslim hate.”

“Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments,” the Democratic lawmaker said in a statement at the time. “She instead doubled down on her rhetoric. I decided to end the unproductive call.”

On Sunday, Omar told CNN’s Jake Tapper that it was “shocking and unacceptable” to hear Boebert’s rhetoric, citing her long history of anti-Muslim remarks.

“It’s very unbecoming of a congresswoman to use that kind of derogatory, dangerous, inciting language against a colleague,” Omar said. “To see this happen right now in the halls of Congress really is damaging, not just to the Muslim community, to myself, but to the kind of country we want to be.”

Omar also called House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) “a liar and a coward” for not condemning Boebert’s language or punishing her. On Friday, McCarthy said Boebert had already apologized publicly and personally, not mentioning her subsequent public statements renewing her attacks on Omar.

McCarthy “doesn’t have the ability to condemn the kind of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric that are being trafficked by a member,” Omar said. “Because this is who [Republicans] are. And we have to be able to stand up to them, and we have to be able to push them to reckon with the fact that their party right now is normalizing anti-Muslim bigotry.”

A representative for McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.

Tapper on Sunday played a clip of a threatening voice mail Omar had received. The congresswoman said her office had received “too many to count,” along with reports of people whose children have had their hijabs pulled off.

“Words matter, and words can cause violence,” Omar said. “And [Boebert] knows that the language that she’s using, the audience that she’s using it for, is going to incite violence against myself and my community.”

Omar also recounted another time Pelosi had intervened on her behalf, when she was elected to Congress and concerned that she wasn’t going to be allowed to be sworn in because of a ban on the hijab in the House. In January 2019, the House passed a rule that allowed for religious head coverings.

“She promised me that she’d take care of it. She fulfilled that promise,” Omar said. “She made another promise to me that she will take care of this, and I believe her.”

Marianna Sotomayor, Felicia Sonmez and Mariana Alfaro contributed to this report.

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