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Cheney Pushes Back On Criticism Over Vote On Anti-Hate Resolution

Bob Beck
Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney turned some heads in Washington last week when she opposed a resolution denouncing all forms of hate. She was one of a mere 23 who voted against the measure.

Initially Democratic leaders planned to rebuke Freshman Democratic Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for what were characterized as anti-Semitic remarks, after she accused some lawmakers of having dual allegiance to both America and Israel. But then many freshmen Democrats and her two fellow Muslim colleagues protested and said it unfairly singled her out, so the resolution was broadened and never named the congresswoman.

Cheney said her objection to the resolution was the very fact that Omar was not held accountable.

"You could have gone either way on it. The resolution itself didn't have anything objectionable it. But it also, in my view, very clearly an effort to protect her by not naming her. The whole resolution was constructed in a way that would essentially enable her," said Cheney

In fact, Cheney had called for Omar to be stripped of her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee over the remarks even before the vote. Cheney's critical of Democrats for what she said is the party's leaders essentially letting Omar off the hook.

"She went out afterwards and said that, you know, it was a huge victory for her. I think it's really important that we all stand up against anti-Semitism. And I think you've seen the Republicans doing that," said Cheney.

But Jewish Democrats are disappointed in Cheney's vote, especially because she's now the number three ranked House Republican in their leadership team. New York Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey who had initially pushed for the resolution denouncing Omar's allegedly anti-Semitic remarks, said it hurts that Cheney opposed an even broader resolution denouncing, even more, hate speech than the first draft.

"It's unfortunate and she should know better."

GOP leaders did kick Iowa Republican Steve King off his committees over accusations that he seemed to endorse white supremacy and neo-Nazi principles. But Illinois Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky said contemporary GOP leaders like Cheney have never reprimanded any individuals on the House floor for using racist, misogynistic or xenophobic language, including Trump himself.

"They have not done any resolution whatsoever calling out anyone by name - whether it's Steve King or anyone, or the president of the United States who I call him the hate-mongerer-in-chief," said Schakowsky.

After the vote, Politico reported that the other GOP leaders were upset with Cheney for opposing the legislation that the rest of the top brass of their leadership team supported. But Cheney said those reports are wrong.

"Our leadership team is absolutely unified and very much focused on the radical agenda that we've seen from the Democrats."

Minority Whip Steve Scalise also said the reports are false and that he agreed with Cheney's position, even if they voted differently.

"Look - a lot of members were justified in being disappointed that the resolution didn't go far enough. I think the resolution didn't go far enough."

Cheney is seen as a rising star in the GOP and that means you can expect to be hearing from her a lot more on national news outlets.

Based on Capitol Hill, Matt Laslo is a reporter who has been covering campaigns and every aspect of federal policy since 2006. While he has filed stories for NPR and more than 40 of its affiliates, he has also written for Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Guardian, The Omaha World-Herald, VICE News and Washingtonian Magazine.
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