Last week, freshman Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert – one of the conservative firebrands in the House of Representatives – issued an apology for a joke she made about Minnesota progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar potentially carrying a bomb in a backpack into the U.S. Capitol building.
After a contentious phone call between the two lawmakers Monday night, the acerbic rhetoric between the two lawmakers continued – and leaders in Congress are considering taking action.
Speaking to her supporters during an event over Congress’ Thanksgiving break, Boebert told an anecdote where a Capitol police officer “with fret all over his face” ran toward the elevator in an unsuccessful attempt to stop it.
"I look to my left and there she is: Ilhan Omar,” Boebert said. “And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine,’" Boebert said, sparking cheers.
Boebert claimed she then told Omar, who is Muslim, ‘Oh, look, the jihad squad decided to show up for work today.’”
A spokesperson for Omar said at the time that the story was “a fabrication.” Omar said it was a false claim in a statement on Monday.
Boebert posted an apology to Twitter last week, writing: “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.”
But since then, the rhetoric between the two lawmakers heated up once again, drawing more lawmakers into the fray — an sign of the heightened partisan discord and acerbic rhetoric in Congress since the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building to disrupt the electoral process.
On Monday, a phone call took place between Reps. Boebert and Omar — and, needless to say, it did not appear to go well, with each lawmaker releasing dueling accounts of the conversation and slamming the other in the process.
But the one thing they did agree upon was that Omar abruptly ended the call.
“I graciously accepted a call from Rep. Lauren Boebert in the hope of receiving a direct apology for falsely claiming she met me in an elevator, suggesting I was a terrorist, and for a history of anti-Muslim hate,” Omar said in a press release on Monday.
“Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments,” she added. “She instead doubled down on her rhetoric and I decided to end the unproductive call.”
In a video posted to Instagram, Boebert said that “as a strong Christian woman who values faith deeply, I never want anything I say to offend someone’s religion,” but seemed to express frustration that Omar wanted a public apology, which the Colorado congresswoman refused to do.
“I told Ilhan Omar that she should make a public apology to the American people for her anti-American, antisemitic, anti-police rhetoric,” Boebert said. “She continued to press, and I continued to press back.”
Boebert went on to criticize Omar’s previous criticisms of Israel and police and appeared to use another Islamophobic trope against her.
"Make no mistake, I will continue to fearlessly put America first, never sympathizing with terrorists,” Boebert said. “Unfortunately, Ilhan can’t say the same thing. And our country is worse off for it.”
South Carolina Republican Rep. Nancy Mace condemned Boebert’s rhetoric in an interview with CNN on Monday night.
“I have time after time condemned my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for racist tropes and remarks that I find disgusting and this is no different than any others,” Mace said. “As a member of Congress and seeing such division in our country, we all have a responsibility, both elected members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and the American people in our communities and at work in our communities and everything else … we have a responsibility to lower the temperature, and this does not do that.”
But then another conservative firebrand, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, jumped to Boebert’s defense, writing a Twitter post slamming Mace as “the trash in the GOP Conference.”
“Never attacked by Democrats or RINO’s (same thing) because she is not conservative, she’s pro-abort,” Greene wrote, telling her to “back up off of” Boebert or “just go hang with your real gal pals, the Jihad Squad. Your [SIC] out of your league.”
Mace replied with a Twitter post of her own, first correcting Greene’s grammar, then writing: “While I’m correcting you, I’m a pro-life fiscal conservative who was attacked by the Left all weekend (as I often am) as I defied China while in Taiwan.”
“What I’m not is a religious bigot (or racist). You might want to try that over there in your little ‘league,'" Mace added.
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a prominent critic of former President Donald Trump, weighed in on Twitter, criticizing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for his silence on these issues.
“I love this, but worth noting that while this battle between Nancy Mace and the unserious circus barker McSpacelaser,” Kinzinger, referring to Greene, wrote on Twitter, McCarthy “continues his silent streak that would make a monk blush.”
Despite McCarthy's relative silence on the subject, Congressional Democratic leaders in the majority say they are considering taking action against Boebert.
"We’re considering what action ought to be taken," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters on Tuesday, noting that leaders had a "significant discussion" about what to do over the weekend.
Axios reports that Hoyer called Bobert's remarks "harmful and dangerous" and noted that they are "particularly concerning" because they could "inflame the passions" of violent individuals.
He reiterated that Republican leaders should take action to reprimand members of their own caucus, but GOP leaders have thus far this year not taken disciplimary actions against their own members.
The Democrat-led House voted to remove Greene from committees in Februrary in the wake of a number of offensive comments she made on social media. The House also voted to censure Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar and remove him from committees earlier this month for posting an anime video to social media which depicted him killing New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword and attacking President Joe Biden.