There have now been two Opinion Exchange commentaries attacking our U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (“I endorse Ilhan Omar’s challenger on merit,” April 20) from Nekima Levy Armstrong and earlier from one of Rep. Omar’s challengers, Antone Melton-Meaux (“Here’s why I’m challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar,” April 7). I find these articles to be inappropriately skewed and unpersuasive.
Both articles fail to acknowledge the accomplishments of our congresswoman’s first term in Congress, as well as the political gridlock that is the current reality in Washington.
In the latest piece, the author attacks Rep. Omar’s record of accomplishment in the House. But contrary to the author’s claims, she in fact leads the entire Minnesota delegation in amendments passed in the House, and in total number of bills and amendments introduced. Her Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students (MEALS) Act — a critical bill to provide over 20 million kids with federally subsidized school lunches during the coronavirus — was signed into law as part of Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Her Protect Against Unlawful Lobbying (PAUL) Act, to increase transparency for foreign governments, passed the House as part of HR 1, the House’s first bill this Congress, to make sure our democracy was protected.
Rep. Omar is one of a few freshmen who has not only passed amendments through both committee and the House, but also into law.
As the whip of the Progressive Caucus and a leader of the Medicare for All Caucus, she has already established herself as a top progressive lawmaker in the House — leading major bills to abolish student debt, provide universal school meals and end the waste crisis that is fueling climate change. She is a leading advocate of a Green New Deal and has secured major victories for Minnesotans — including protecting our Liberian-American community from deportation, bringing home hundreds of thousands of dollars to her constituents and securing critical funding during the coronavirus pandemic.
And as the only African-born person to ever be elected to Congress, she has been instrumental in refocusing our policy in Africa.
The author also claims that Rep. Omar voted against the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, but this is false. Rep. Omar was an original cosponsor of the bill and one of its foremost proponents. Rep. Omar only voted no when the bill was attached as a rider in the National Defense Authorization Act, a $738 billion giveaway to the Pentagon that most progressives opposed.
She’s done this all while being a constant presence in our district. I’ve seen countless public town halls of Rep. Omar’s last year. And each time, she stayed long after the event ended to talk with and answer questions from the people in attendance.
Since the coronavirus crisis began, I’ve seen many livestream town halls and news conferences she’s held — including a recent small business roundtable with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and a briefing with doctors from the University of Minnesota. She hosted a historic delegation of the Black Caucus, specifically to address the need of the African-American community in Minnesota.
I am extremely bothered by the implication that Rep. Omar is to blame for President Donald Trump’s attacks against her. The past few years have shown us the president’s willingness to target prominent women of color. We should not blame our congresswoman for the president’s racist and Islamophobic attacks against her, nor should we repeat false claims against her, like claiming that she booed Hillary Clinton. She didn’t, and she was a Minnesota surrogate for Secretary Clinton in 2016.
This article should not be read as an attack on the authors of the two previous pieces. Instead I want to remind readers that the issues our congresswoman is fighting for should be the issues we are all fighting for. We all have a role to play to ensure that our most vulnerable communities get what they need. In addition, we cannot forget the negative winds that she is facing every single day as an immigrant, Muslim and woman of color operating in the halls of power in this country.
As a member of the New Hope City Council, I’ve witnessed the progressive values our congresswoman is fighting for, and here in CD5 we know that Ilhan Omar is the type of leader we need to counter the hate and lack of compassion that has become more overt over the past four years.
I am proud to support Ilhan Omar’s re-election to Congress.
Cedrick Frazier is a member of the New Hope City Council.