Led by ranking member Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrats on the U.S. House Oversight and Accountability Committee this week warned that Republicans doubled down on “a dangerous lie” when they refused to back a statement denouncing white supremacy.
Raskin, D-Md., was joined by all 20 Democrats on the committee in signing a brief, straightforward statement condemning “white nationalism and white supremacy in all its forms, including the ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory,” which claims that white Americans are intentionally being “replaced” by people of color, particularly through immigration policy.
“These hateful and dangerous ideologies have no place in the work of the United States Congress or our committee,” reads the statement.
Raskin sent the statement along with a letter to committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., saying he was driven to call on his 26 Republican colleagues to sign on to the statement after the panel held a hearing in February titled “On the Front Lines of the Border Crisis.”
In that hearing, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., asked whether immigrants arriving in the U.S. via the southern border are “changing our culture” and both Reps. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., claimed an “invasion” by migrants and asylum-seekers is taking hold at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In his letter to Comer, Raskin noted that he had explained to the chairman at the hearing that “such language borrows from the ‘Great Replacement’ theory, the central dogma of contemporary white supremacy,” and that the theory has been invoked by white nationalists who have committed deadly acts of domestic terrorism in Buffalo, New York; El Paso, Texas; and Pittsburgh.
Republican lawmakers including Sens. J.D. Vance of Ohio and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin have also alluded to the theory in their attacks on Democratic immigration policy.
Presented with the facts about the rise of white supremacy in the U.S. at the hearing and in Raskin’s letter, Comer and the committee’s other Republicans refused to sign the statement.
A spokesperson for the committee’s Republicans claimed the Democrats were attempting to “distract from President Biden’s border crisis and their failure to conduct oversight of it for two years,” and did not address the embrace of the Great Replacement theory by Republican lawmakers and domestic terrorists.
The Biden administration has garnered condemnation from progressives and human rights advocates for a number of anti-immigration policies, including his expansion of the Trump-era Title 42 expulsion policy and his current reported consideration of migrant family detentions.
As the Trump and Biden administrations have pushed anti-immigration programs, advocates have maintained that the “crisis” at the border is one of denying asylum-seekers their internationally recognized right to seek refuge in another country.
“Politicians and media pundits quickly reduce this mounting humanitarian crisis to ‘border security,'” wrote Farrah Hassen of the Institute for Policy Studies at OtherWords in January. “That narrow focus puts real solutions out of reach—and imperils the universal right to seek refuge from danger.”
In his letter, Raskin noted that Republicans have been given previous opportunities to condemn white supremacy.
“On June 8, 2022, following the racially motivated Tops Supermarket mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, House Democrats passed H. Res. 1152, a resolution to condemn the ‘Great Replacement’ theory and affirm the commitment of the People’s House to combating white supremacy and race hatred,” wrote Raskin. “Despite then-Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s acknowledgment that white supremacy and white nationalism are ‘definitely not American,’ not a single House Republican voted in favor of the resolution.”
“As chairman, you have another opportunity to take a public stand against the deliberate amplification of dangerous racist rhetoric that has had deadly consequences in this country,” he continued, referring to Comer. “If committee Republicans intend to continue examining the southern border and related policies, it is imperative for every member of this committee to make clear to the American people that we speak with one voice to reject dangerous conspiracy theories and racist and antisemitic ideology in our committee’s deliberations and decision-making.”