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WASHINGTON

Rep. John Katko joins GOP attempt to censure Democratic reps over Israel comments

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Ilhan Omar Democrats Israel

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks in Brooklyn Center, Minn. April 20.

A group of House Republicans, including U.S. Rep. John Katko, is putting forth a resolution condemning and censuring four Democratic members of Congress and accusing them of "defending foreign terrorist organizations and inciting anti-Semitic attacks across the United States." 

The resolution sponsored by U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican, is in response to statements the congresswomen — U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib — made about Israel. The text of the resolution includes references to some of those statements. 

The statements include the congresswomen describing Israel as an "apartheid state" and Omar's recent comments that there have been "unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban." 

Waltz's resolution has been cosponsored by 16 of his colleagues. Katko, R-Camillus, is an original cosponsor. 

"Today I cosponsored a resolution to censure and condemn members of 'the squad,' who have consistently made statements in defense of terrorist organizations and that serve to embolden anti-Semitic ideologies," said Katko, the ranking Republican member on the House Homeland Security Committee. "Most recently, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar equated the United States and Israel, two democracies, with terrorist organizations Hamas and the Taliban. 

"With anti-Semitic violence in the United States on the rise, and as our friend and ally Israel faces an unprecedented terrorist threat, this rhetoric is especially disturbing. 'The squad' must be held accountable for their dangerous and unchecked rhetoric." 

"The Squad" is a nickname that has been used for the four congresswomen, who have collaborated on many issues since being elected to Congress in 2018. 

Hours after Katko released his statement, his campaign sent a fundraising email highlighting his support of the resolution to condemn and censure the four congresswomen. The email featured the subject line, "Defending TERRORISTS? Enough is enough." 

Katko's office suggested that the central New York congressman's position is consistent with his prior support for a resolution that stripped Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments for peddling conspiracy theories and using hateful rhetoric. He was one of 11 Republicans who voted for the measure in February. 

The GOP attempt to condemn and censure the four congresswomen, in the Democratic-led House, is unlikely to pass. There have been similar resolutions introduced by Republicans targeting Democrats. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy sponsored a measure to censure U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters for comments she made about protesting police brutality. But that resolution was tabled by the House. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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