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U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks during a news conference about Islamophobia on November 30, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Not a Single Republican Votes for Ilhan Omar's Bill to Combat Islamophobia

Specifically bigoted behavior by Rep. Lauren Boebert goes unpunished as Democrats approve a bill to address anti-Muslim sentiment globally.

Jessica Corbett

Not one single Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives joined with Democrats on Tuesday night to pass Rep. Ilhan Omar's legislation intended to address rising Islamophobia worldwide.

"As Americans, we should stand united against all forms of bigotry."

Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced the Combating International Islamophobia Act (H.R. 5665) in October. After the bill passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, of which Omar is a member, in a party-line vote last week, the full chamber approved it 219-212, with one Republican not voting.

The bill would establish an Office to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia in the U.S. State Department, led by a special envoy—appointed by the secretary of state—who will "help policymakers better understand the interconnected, global problem of anti-Muslim bigotry."

"As a country that was founded on religious liberty, our leadership on international religious freedom depends on recognizing that Islamophobia is global in scope, and we must lead the global effort to address it," said Omar—one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress—during the House debate on the bill before the vote.

"There are cynics who would rather see us divided on racial, ethnic, gender, and religious lines because it suits their political agenda. But I believe, as Americans, we should stand united against all forms of bigotry," Omar added, noting that the bill is modeled on an existing State Department role—the special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism.

In a statement ahead of its House passage, the White House confirmed that the Biden administration supports the bill, which Omar welcomed on Twitter—a platform where she regularly endures Islamophobic attacks.

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday introduced the companion legislation—though with an evenly divided Senate, like so many bills, the measure is unlikely to pass unless Democrats reform or abolish the filibuster.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights advocacy group, has supported the bill since its October introduction. On Tuesday, the organization thanked the Senate sponsors and applauded the House vote.

"Passing the Combating International Islamophobia Act into law will equip our nation with important tools to track and counter dangerous manifestations of anti-Muslim bigotry around the world," said CAIR government affairs department director Robert S. McCaw in a statement.

CAIR also urged passage of a resolution led by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) to hold Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) accountable for her Islamophobic attacks on Omar.

After video circulated of Boebert comparing Omar to a terrorist last month, calls mounted for both Democratic and Republican leadership to punish the Colorado congresswoman. In the absence of any action from House leaders, Pressley—backed by other progressives—last week introduced a resolution to strip Boebert of her committee assignments.

McCaw said that "the House's adoption of H.R. 5665 should not supersede American Muslim and congressional calls on Democratic leadership to censure Rep. Lauren Boebert and her removal from House Committee assignments—following her repeated Islamophobic rhetorical attacks and falsehoods targeting Rep. Omar."

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