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Rep. Lauren Boebert

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) walks through the U.S. Capitol on December 2, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Pressley Leads Resolution Targeting Boebert’s Islamophobia as Hill Staffers Fear 'Incendiary Rhetoric'

"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," said Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

Julia Conley

With Rep. Ilhan Omar reportedly facing mounting death threats following racist comments from Rep. Lauren Boebert comparing Omar to a terrorist, progressive lawmakers on Wednesday signaled that they were losing patience with the Democratic leadership's failure to hold the right-wing lawmaker accountable, as Rep. Ayanna Pressley announced a resolution calling for Boebert to be stripped of her committee assignments.

Pressley (D-Mass.) was joined by nearly a dozen co-sponsors in introducing the resolution, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), all of whom have demanded House leaders take decisive action to make clear that racist attacks on lawmakers won't be tolerated in the House.

"If nothing happens, it means we're accepting anti-Muslim hate in Congress and we're accepting and condoning anti-Muslim hate across the country."

The failure of House leaders to hold Boebert accountable could endanger Muslims across the U.S., including Omar (D-Minn.), Pressley said Wednesday.

"For a member of Congress to repeatedly use hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric and Islamophobic tropes towards a Muslim colleague is dangerous. It has no place in our society and it diminishes the honor of the institution we serve in," said Pressley. "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."

"The House must unequivocally condemn this incendiary rhetoric and immediately pass this resolution," she continued. "How we respond in moments like these will have lasting impacts, and history will remember us for it."

Pressley introduced the resolution less than 24 hours after MSNBC aired a clip of Boebert explicitly calling Omar "a terrorist" in a November 22 interview on One America News (OAN), the extreme right-wing media outlet. That interview took place days before the Colorado Republican posted a video in which she falsely told a crowd that Omar was mistaken for a suicide bomber by Capitol Police.

"It gets worse every day," Jeremy Slevin, senior communications director for Omar, said of the OAN clip.

Also on Wednesday, more than 400 Capitol Hill staffers—including more than 50 who are Muslim—wrote to House leaders demanding that the Democratic Party "categorically reject" Boebert's "incendiary rhetoric."

"The recent remarks by Rep. Boebert have heightened the climate of Islamophobia on the Hill, creating a feeling of anxiety and fear for many Muslim staff, our families, and communities, and leaving many of us to look to our congressional leaders for support," wrote the staffers.

Progressives are arguing that House Democrats' response to Boebert's conduct should be no different than the actions that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took last month after Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) posted an animated video depicting Ocasio-Cortez being murdered and earlier this year after past comments by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) surfaced in which Greene mocked a school shooting survivor and supported violence against Democrats. Both Republicans were removed from their committee assignments.

While Omar said Tuesday that she has secured a "commitment" from Pelosi "that something will get done," and expressed hope that leaders will soon make clear that the party won't accept racism from Republican members, Ocasio-Cortez expressed impatience.

"I haven't heard anything binding from leadership, which in and of itself is an embarrassment," Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill. "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."

The New York Democrat rejected a proposal that's reportedly been put forward by some Democrats to pass a resolution condemning Islamophobia in general without denouncing Boebert, telling The Hill, "She needs to be held accountable for her actions."

Pelosi has expressed hostility regarding the suggestion that the Democratic Party should take action against a Republican whose comments have been linked to death threats against a member of her caucus, telling a CNN reporter Wednesday, "It's the responsibility of Republicans to discipline their members" and "scolding" reporters for asking about the issue.

"If nothing happens, it means we're accepting anti-Muslim hate in Congress and we're accepting and condoning anti-Muslim hate across the country," Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) told The Hill Tuesday. "So if nothing happens, that's the message we are sending, which is why we have to continue to push to have her removed from committee."

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