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The newly elected 118th Congress – in particular, the US House of Representatives is back with a bang led by a weakened Speaker, Kevin McCarthy (R) who was elected to the Speakership after a whopping 15 rounds of votes, something not witnessed in 100 years.

Yesterday, the US House voted and removed Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) of Minnesota from the powerful Foreign Affairs committee by 218 for and 211 against on a straight party line poll.

US Representative – MN Ilhan Omar /Courtesy/

Rep. Ilhan was first elected to the US House of Representatives for the Minnesota’s 5th congressional district to serve a two year term 2016 during the contentious Presidency of Donald J. Trump. Since then, she has has been re-elected three times.

Rep. Omar was one of the four progressive democrats known as “the Squad” first elected in 2016. The other three include – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [NY-14] (aka AOC), Ayanna Pressley [MA-7], and Rashida Tlaib [MI-13].

The Squad ousted incumbents on that election and came in with a mission to advocate for progressive policies such as Universal Healthcare and the Green New Deal. They drew the ire of the right for what they represented.

The Squad: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley /INSTAGRAM-AOC/

Ms Omar tweeted in 2021 that “we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban”.

She had apologized for lumping the US with terrorists groups like Hamas and the Taliban.

This among a few other times she had been at odds with her Democratic colleagues and drew sharp criticism from some Republican members.

Ms. Omar was defiant amid the removal process. She has been outspoken of the American foreign policy and said that she’s seen as a powerful voice that needs to be silenced. And she said, quote, “when you push power, power pushes back,” and that representation matters.

“My leadership and voice will not be diminished if I am not on this committee for one term. My voice will get louder and stronger, and my leadership will be celebrated around the world as it has been.”

Illhan Omar

The House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said, despite Omar’s apology, he and other Republicans have said these remarks were anti-Semitic and that should have ended her role on this particular committee.

The United States Capitol Building which houses both chambers of Congress /Courtesy/

Ms. Omar is the first Somali American and the first naturalized citizen of African birth in the United States Congress, the first Black woman to represent Minnesota. She is also one of the first two Muslim women (along with Rashida Tlaib) to serve in Congress.

She was born in Mogadishu, Somalia 🇸🇴, on October 4, 1982 to her father Nur Omar Mohamed who was a colonel in the Somali army under former President Siad Barre and also worked as a teacher trainer. Her mother Fadhuma Abukar Haji Hussein died when she was two years.

Her family fled Somalia to escape the Somali Civil War and were in Dadaab refugee camp in Garissa, Kenya for four years.

The family secured asylum in the U.S. and arrived in New York in 1995. They had lived in Arlington, Virginia for sometime, then moved and settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota where there is a large Somali population.

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