Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) had a tense phone call Monday that was meant to defuse escalating tensions, but the “unproductive” call only exacerbated the feud between the two lawmakers.
Both congresswomen agreed the heated phone call did not go well. The war of words between the two lawmakers intensified after they issued separate statements following the heated call over Boebert’s recent Islamophobic remark suggesting Omar was a suicide bomber.
Boebert, in a video statement posted on her personal Instagram account, gave her version of the phone call, saying that she sought to make amends with Omar, but the Minnesota congresswoman instead was pushing for a direct and public apology.
“Now, as a strong, Christian woman who values faith deeply, I never want anything I say to offend someone’s religion,” Boebert said. “So I told her that. Even after I put out a public statement to that effect, she said that she still wanted a public apology because what I had done wasn’t good enough. So I reiterated to her what I had just said.”
The Colorado Republican then cited the progressive Squad lawmaker’s past hateful remarks, insisting that Omar should apologize to the American people. After the two continued to go back and forth, demanding each other issue public apologies, Omar ended the call.
“Rejecting an apology and hanging up on someone is part of cancel culture 101 and a pillar of the Democrat Party,” Boebert said. “Make no mistake; I will continue to fearlessly put America first, never sympathizing with terrorists. Unfortunately, Ilhan can’t say the same thing. And our country is worse off for it.”
Omar, meanwhile, in a statement confirmed that she did end the call with Boebert, saying that she had hoped the Colorado Republican would give her a “direct apology” for calling her a “terrorist.”
“Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments,” Omar said in a statement. “She instead doubled down on her rhetoric, and I decided to end the unproductive call. I believe in engaging with those we disagree with respectfully, but not when that disagreement is rooted in outright bigotry and hate.”
The progressive Squad member then accused House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) of failing to discipline Republican members for what she labeled as “repeated instances of anti-Muslim hate and harassment.”
“This is not about one hateful statement or one politician; it is about a party that has mainstreamed bigotry and hatred,” Omar said. “It is time for Republican Leader McCarthy to actually hold his party accountable.”
The House drama began over on Thanksgiving when a video of Boebert being filmed recounting a story of Omar went viral on Twitter. Boebert tells supporters in the video a recent run-in she had with Omar at the U.S. Capitol, insinuating the Minnesota Democrat is a suicide bomber.
“So the other night on the House floor was not my first jihad squad moment,” Boebert said in the video shared by a Twitter account called PatriotTakes. “I see a Capitol Police officer running hurriedly to the elevator. I see fret all over his face, and he’s reaching. The door is shutting.”
“I look to my left, and there she is. Ilhan Omar. I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack; we should be fine,'” Boebert quipped to the laughing crowd. “And I said, ‘Oh, look. The jihad squad decided to show up for work today.'”
Omar fired back, calling Boebert a “buffoon” for her anti-Muslim remarks, denying that the encounter ever happened, and accusing the Colorado lawmaker of making up the “whole story” in attempts to smear her religion for “clout.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the entire Democratic leadership team quickly rushed to Omar’s aide to seize on Boebert’s “deeply offensive and concerning” remarks in casting their Republican counterparts as beholden to extremist far-right members.
“Congresswoman Boebert’s repeated, ongoing and targeted Islamophobic comments and actions against another Member of Congress, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, are both deeply offensive and concerning,” the entire House Democratic leadership said in a joint statement Friday.
“Leader McCarthy and the entire House Republican Leadership’s repeated failure to condemn inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric from members of their conference is outrageous. We call on the Republican Leadership to address this priority with the Congresswoman and to finally take real action to confront racism,” the joint statement added.
Boebert tweeted a public apology to Muslims, adding that she reached out to Omar’s office to speak with the Minnesota Democrat directly.
“I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar. I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly. There are plenty of policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction,” Boebert tweeted.
McCarthy said he spoke with Boebert, noting that the Colorado Republican has apologized for her remarks. The GOP leader also said he reached out to Hoyer to help coordinate a meeting between Omar and Boebert “so that Congress can get back to talking to each other and working on the challenges facing the American people.”
It’s not the first time Boebert referred to Omar as “the Jihad Squad.” Earlier this month, before House Democrats ultimately censured Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Boebert defended her colleague during a floor debate, singling out Omar’s reported controversies.
“The Jihad Squad member from Minnesota has paid her husband, and not her brother husband — the other one, over a million dollars in campaign funds,” Boebert said. “This member is allowed on the Foreign Affairs Committee while praising terrorists.”
It is unclear if Democratic leaders will take disciplinary steps being the majority as they’ve done with Gosar and Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who were both stripped of their committee assignments this year. However, several Democrats privately warned that punishing Boebert after recently doing it with Gosar will come back to bite them tenfold when GOP retakes the majority.