Senior House Dem downplays jab at Omar, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez

House majority leader had told AIPAC conference, 'There are 62 freshman Democrats. Your hear me? 62 - not three.'

Ron Kampeas, JTA ,

Steny Hoyer
Steny Hoyer

The House majority leader “clarified” remarks that were seen as jabs at first-year Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., in his address Sunday to the AIPAC policy conference appeared to criticize Omar, D-Minn., who has complained of pressure to pledge “allegiance” to Israel; Tlaib, D-Mich., a Palestinian-Arab American who backs ending assistance to Israel and plans to lead a lawmakers’ tour of Judea and Samaria to rival the one Hoyer leads to Israel every year with the assistance of an affiliate of AIPAC; and Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who has defended Tlaib and Omar.

“This August, I will lead what I expect to be the largest delegation ever” to Israel, Hoyer said. “There are 62 freshman Democrats,” he said and cocked his ear. “You hear me? 62 — not three.”

In a statement Monday, Hoyer said his sarcasm was aimed at the media, not the congresswomen.

“In pointing out that much of the press attention has been on a few new Members in particular, I was lamenting that the media does not appear to be paying enough attention to other excellent new Members who are also bringing important new energy and diverse perspectives to our Caucus and to the Congress,” Hoyer said. “I am proud and excited to serve with all of our new Democratic Members, who reflect the diversity of our country better than any freshman class in our history.”