WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution “opposing hate” as Democrats try to move past a controversy over remarks by freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar that deeply split the party and clouded their agenda.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced the vote at a private morning meeting of House Democrats, according to a spokeswoman.
The move was in part intended to resolve a divide that opened after Omar, D-Minn., made comments about Israel that were seen as anti-Semitic. A Muslim-American, she has been critical of the Jewish state in the past.
Some Jewish lawmakers preferred to keep the resolution tailored to anti-Semitism, while other members who wanted to broaden it to include a rejection of all forms of racism and bigotry. Some proposed two separate resolutions. Others questioned whether a resolution was necessary, and viewed such a move as unfairly singling out Omar at a time when President Donald Trump and others have made disparaging racial comments.
“This shouldn’t be so hard,” said Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the lead author of a draft resolution to condemn anti-Semitism that did not mention Omar by name.
As Deutch spoke on the House floor Thursday, a new text was being prepared ahead of voting.
The abrupt turn of events come as Democratic leaders try to quickly fend off a challenge from Republicans on the issue.
Democratic leaders worried they could run into trouble on another bill, their signature ethics and voting reform package, if Republicans tried to tack their own anti-Semitism bill on as an amendment.
By voting Thursday, the House Democratic vote counters believe they could inoculate their lawmakers against such a move by passing Democrats’ own anti-hate bill.