U.S. Rep. Summer Lee of Pennsylvania. (Photo courtesy Summer Lee)
As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to hold another round of voting to fill the vacant Speaker of the House position, U.S. Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) is urging House Republicans not to support Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for the job.
“At a moment when our Jewish communities are in so much pain, I am horrified that Republicans are now planning to elect a Speaker who has used his official role as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to spread antisemitic tropes and replacement theory online and on national TV,” Lee said in a statement, “even tweeting ‘Kanye. Elon. Trump’ from the official House Judiciary Committee Account and left the post up for a total of 56 days including after Kanye vowed to go ‘death con 3 on Jewish people.’”
The House rejected Jordan as a candidate for speaker Tuesday, but he said he would secure the votes he needs in the days ahead. The House will hold a second ballot Wednesday, which gives Jordan time to regroup and possibly win over the 20 Republican holdouts who voted against him. The “no” votes included Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly (R-16th District),
Lee has been joined in her calls against Jordan by several anti-hate and civil rights organizations. Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Washington director of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, said in a statement that Jordan had “regularly used antisemitic rhetoric including the white supremacist ‘great replacement’ theory.'”
Kimelman-Block said the fact Jordan was under consideration as speaker at all was a wake-up call: “What we may have previously considered ‘fringe’ and hateful views are now fully in the mainstream of our political discourse. Handing this man the Speaker’s gavel can only make things worse for the Jewish community, especially Jews of color, and so many other communities targeted by white supremacy.”
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing in February, Jordan, who is the committee chair, said that President Joe Biden’s policies were contributing to a “crisis” on the U.S. southern border, and claimed potentially dangerous undocumented immigrants were being allowed into the country.
“Month after month after month, we have set records for migrants coming into the country, and frankly I think it’s intentional,” Jordan said. “It seems deliberate, it seems premeditated, it seems intentional.”
Lee said Jordan’s remarks during committee hearings “echoed the Great Replacement conspiracy theory,” which was cited by the man who shot and killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018. The five-year anniversary of that shooting is next week.
Avigail Oren, volunteer organizer for Bend the Arc: Jewish Action Pittsburgh said in the five years since the synagogue shooting, western Pennsylvania has elected progressive candidates like Lee and Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey “because we recognize that keeping our communities safe requires leadership that embraces diversity and respects the dignity all human lives.”
Oren added that choosing Jordan for speaker “…a man who used his chairmanship to peddle replacement theory and refused to condemn Marjorie Taylor Green’s space laser conspiracy theory, would be a step backward towards political representation for some but not all, and his leadership would directly endanger marginalized Americans including Jews.”
Lee was the first House Democrat to speak out against the candidacy of Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana for speaker, calling him a “white supremacist antisemite” on Oct. 12. Scalise withdrew from the race later that day, when it became clear he didn’t have enough votes to win the speaker role.
This article was updated at 11:37 a.m. Oct. 18, 2023 to add comment from Avigail Oren.
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