Rep. Steve King removed from committee assignments amid 'white supremacist' controversy
Rep. Steve King faces bipartisan backlash as Republicans and Democrats condemn his comments on white supremacy
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was removed from all of his committee assignments by House Republicans Monday evening following bipartisan condemnation of his recent remarks on white supremacy and white nationalism. King was serving on the committee on agriculture, the committee on small business and the committee on judiciary, according to his website.
"We will not tolerate this type of language in the Republican party ... or in the Democratic party as well," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters. "I watched what Steve King said and we took action."
In a formal statement, McCarthy said King's comments were "beneath the dignity of the Party of Lincoln and the United States of America. His comments call into question whether he will treat all Americans equally, without regard for race and ethnicity. House Republicans are clear: We are all in this together, as fellow citizens equal before God and the law. As Congressman King’s fellow citizens, let us hope and pray earnestly that this action will lead to greater reflection and ultimately change on his part.”
In a statement, King insisted that his comments had been "completely mischaracterized" and blasted McCarthy for what King called "a political decision that ignores the truth."
The announcement came just hours after Reps. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., and Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, introduced separate censure resolutions against King. Censure is one of three formal modes of punishment in the House. It is more severe than a reprimand, but not as severe as expulsion. The House has only censured 23 members in history, most recently, former Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., in December 2010.
The removal of King from the roles comes just hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., slammed the representative for remarks he made about the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist." McConnell argued that if the representative “doesn't understand why 'white supremacy' is offensive, he should find another line of work.”
“There is no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind,” McConnell said. “I have no tolerance for such positions and those who espouse these views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. Rep. King's statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position.”
King, 69, was already under fire from Republicans for aligning himself with a white nationalist politician and making a series of racially charged remarks when he made the head-turning comment in an interview published last week.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King asked The New York Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
In a statement after the article was published, King insisted that he rejected what he called the "evil ideology" of white nationalism and supremacy, and reiterated that he considers himself a "nationalist" who supports the values of "Western civilization."
But King has faced criticism over a series of racial remarks.
Last year, he tweeted “culture and demographics are our destiny” and said we “can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.”
In 2013, he commented that while he has some sympathy for some illegal immigrants, "they aren't all valedictorians, they weren't all brought in by their parents -- for everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
"I think Steve King’s comments are his own and his exclusively and what he said was reprehensible and ought to lead to his resignation from Congress," Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said following McConnell's statement. "Our Senate leader also said today that Steve King ought to find a different line of work. I think he’s absolutely right. I think it’s very clear that the party leadership is unified that Steve King is out of bounds and that he should no longer be serving in Congress.”
"As with any animal that is rabid, Steve King should be set aside and isolated," Rush said Monday in a statement that also called on Republicans to strip King of his committee memberships until he apologizes.
"It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or Republican, we all have a responsibility to call out Rep. King's hateful and racist comments," Ryan said.
King's position in the GOP had been imperiled even before his remarks about white supremacy.
Shortly before the 2018 midterm elections, in which King was running, Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, then the head of the GOP campaign committee, issued an extraordinary public denunciation of him.
King has already drawn a primary challenger for the 2020 election: Randy Feenstra, a GOP state senator.
Fox News' Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report