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Rep. Ayanna Pressley spearheads resolution that would punish Rep. Boebert for her Islamophobic remarks

It would punish Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., for her comments toward Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., by removing Boebert from her committee assignments.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., attends a news conference at the Capitol on Sept. 24, 2021.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., attends a news conference at the Capitol on Sept. 24, 2021.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., introduced a resolution Wednesday afternoon that would punish Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., for her recent Islamophobic comments toward Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., by removing Boebert from her committee assignments.

"Words have consequences, we must acknowledge that and respond with action," Pressley said at a press conference announcing the measure.

Specifically, the resolution would remove Boebert from the House Budget Committee and House Natural Resources Committee.

Pressley said the resolution also aims to "send a powerful message to every Muslim and every marginalized person who has ever questioned their place in this country, or in the halls of power: We see you, you belong, you are powerful and you deserve a life free from fear, and filled with dignity and love."

More than a dozen House Democrats back the resolution, according to Pressley’s office, including several other members of the so-called “squad” such as Reps. Cori Bush, D-Mo., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., as well as the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.

The resolution comes after a video emerged in late November that showed Boebert suggesting that Omar, who is Muslim and wears a hijab, was mistaken for a terrorist in an elevator both were riding in at the U.S. Capitol.

“Representative Boebert, whatever her intentions may be, for her racism and flagrant bigotry needs to experience a consequence for her actions, whether she seeking it out or not. Because when we inconsistently apply consequences to bigotry, we invite more people to test these boundaries,” Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday.

Pressley said in a statement previewing her resolution that it’s “dangerous” for a member of Congress to “repeatedly use hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric and Islamophobic tropes towards a Muslim colleague.”

“Without meaningful accountability for that Member’s actions, we risk normalizing this behavior and endangering the lives of our Muslim colleagues, Muslim staffers and every Muslim who calls America home,” Pressley said. “The House must unequivocally condemn this incendiary rhetoric and immediately pass this resolution. How we respond in moments like these will have lasting impacts, and history will remember us for it.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who is also Muslim, became emotional during the press conference and said that Boebert is invoking violence against all Muslim citizens. “When she said that, she was invoking violence and Muslims all across our country,” Tlaib said. “Ilhan Omar, when I check up on her, she's like, ‘Sis, I survived war, I can survive this.’ She says that so that I can stop crying.”

Asked Wednesday by NBC News about the push to remove her from committees, Boebert declined to comment.

Omar said in an interview on CNN Sunday that she was “very confident” that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would take “decisive action” in her defense.

Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill newspaper Tuesday night, “I haven’t heard anything binding from leadership, which in and of itself is an embarrassment.” She continued, “This shouldn’t take this long; this should not drag on. It’s pretty simple. It doesn’t have to be a big huge thing. It’s pretty open and closed."

Asked at her weekly news conference Wednesday what possible action might be taken against Boebert, Pelosi said, "When I'm ready to announce, I'll let you know."

Pressed further to address Boebert's remarks, Pelosi said of her Republican counterparts, "It’s their responsibility to deal with their people. I don’t feel like talking about what the Republicans are doing or aren’t doing about ... the disgraceful behavior of their members."

Democrats have lashed out at House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for failing to condemn Boebert for her comments. He said last week that Boebert apologized for her actions.

Meanwhile, more than 400 congressional staff members, including over 50 who are Muslim, are calling on House leaders to “categorically reject the incendiary rhetoric” in the workplace in the wake of Boebert’s comments.