Ilhan Omar Again Sets Off a Fight Among Democrats

The flare-up comes as Democrats are desperate for unity as they try to move forward with razor-thin majorities on infrastructure, tax code changes, universal preschool and expanded access to community college. Threats to push such bills through Congress over Republican opposition using budget rules that bypass filibusters are only real if every Democrat is on board, and a public fight with Ms. Omar’s liberal wing could complicate the effort.

Moreover, Republicans, eager to stoke outrage and portray Democrats as anti-Israel, are sure to jump on Ms. Omar’s language, especially after anti-Semitic comments by one of their own members, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, whose recent comparisons of the Holocaust to pandemic safety policies drew condemnation from her own leaders.

Democratic leaders had to beg Ms. Omar and fellow members of the progressive clique known as “the squad” to vote present rather than “no” last month on a $1.9 billion bill to finance Capitol security improvements, to prevent the measure’s defeat after they objected to more funding for the police. Ms. Omar seemed to allude to those pleas in her combative tweet.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California will need those votes to pass party-line legislation that gets through the Senate with conservative Democrats such as Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, though measures with significant Republican support, like a China competition bill that passed on Tuesday, could be approved over the left wing’s objections.

It is not the first time Ms. Omar’s remarks about Israel have generated anger from fellow Democrats. In 2019, her Twitter comment that support in Washington for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby” kicked off weeks of fighting that ended in a resolution on the House floor condemning bigotry and anti-Semitism. The comments played into anti-Semitic tropes that have their roots in the Middle Ages, when Jews were barred from entering most professions and thus became moneylenders — a task that Christians would not take on because of prohibitions against usury.

Republicans — and some Democrats — demanded that she be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but Democratic leaders refused.

Instead, Ms. Omar apologized. “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Ms. Omar said in a statement then, about an hour after Ms. Pelosi and the entire Democratic leadership publicly chastised her for engaging in “deeply offensive” anti-Semitic tropes.

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