Lauren Boebert’s Islamophobic comments have Democrats pushing to strip her of committee assignments. What happens next?

Lauren Boebert
J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., center, smiles after joining other freshman Republican House members for a group photo at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.

Western Slope Republican Lauren Boebert could lose her House of Representatives committee assignments if Democratic leaders choose to act on a new resolution introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

Pressley unveiled the resolution Wednesday in a bid to punish Boebert for anti-Muslim comments she made about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. A video that went viral two weeks ago showed Boebert suggesting that the Muslim congresswoman could potentially be a suicide bomber.

“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,” Pressley said in a statement about her resolution. “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.”

Boebert sits on the Budget Committee, as well as the Committee on Natural Resources, and its subcommittees on water and on Indigenous peoples.

CPR reached out to her office for a response to Pressley’s resolution but has not heard back. Colorado's other Republican members of Congress, though, said the move sets a bad precedent, and argued that Democrats have not taken the same action against members of their own party for offensive comments or posts.

"I'm not in favor of stripping people of their committee assignments," said Rep. Ken Buck. "I think it's wrong and I think that there have been inappropriate actions on both sides and this is a one sided remedy. I don't like it."

How did this start?

In recent weeks, several videos have surfaced of Boebert talking about Omar at events with her supporters. They showed Boebert joking about Omar being a terrorist, calling her “evil” and “black-hearted.” Boebert also referred to Omar and other Congresswomen of color as the “Jihad Squad.”

When the first video appeared online, Boebert originally apologized on Twitter to “anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment.” In the following days she called Omar but the conversation ended in more acrimony, with Boebert demanding Omar apologize for past statements of her own and Omar hanging up. 

Omar and other progressive Democrats have been demanding their leadership punish Boebert, following their moves to censure Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar and take away committee assignments from Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for their comments and online actions. 

"I've had a conversation with the Speaker and I'm very confident that she will take decisive action,” Rep. Omar said on CNN’s State of the Union on Dec. 5th. “I think it's important for us to say, ‘this kind of language, this kind of hate cannot be condoned by the House of Representatives.’”

So what comes next?

The Washington Post reports there’s no time frame for Democratic leaders to take up Pressley’s resolution. And Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it clear to her caucus that she is torn over how to handle Boebert and other Republicans whose words cross the line.

“This is hard because these people are doing it for the publicity,” Pelosi reportedly told Democrats in a closed-door caucus meeting last week. “There's a judgment that has to be made about how we contribute to their fundraising and their publicity on how obnoxious and disgusting they can be. But I do think it has to be clear that there is no place for that.”

Democratic leaders have continually focused on trying to push their Republican counterparts into taking action on their own to rebuke Boebert. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, however, has emphasized Boebert’s contrite tweet and willingness to call Omar, and has so far declined to address the content of her remarks.

Boebert’s words have also drawn criticism from Democrats in Colorado’s delegation. The state’s current longest serving member of Congress, Rep. Diana Degette, said they showed she was “spiraling out of control.”

“With all the serious issues facing this country, the last thing any of us should be focused on is her childish, hate-filled rhetoric - but her latest remarks leave us no choice,” Degette said in a statement.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Rep. Buck's comment.