Shortly after moving to censure GOP Representative Steve King, Republican House leaders removed the controversial Iowa lawmaker from the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees. According to the Washington Post, party officials stripped King of his responsibilities in an effort to appear tough on racism after he made comments questioning why white supremacy is considered offensive.
“We will not be seating Steve King on any committees in the 116th Congress,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican representative from California, said on Monday night.
The punishment came in the wake of an interview with the New York Times in which King asked when certain terms became offensive, before talking about preserving white culture in the United States and disparaging minorities.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
The 69-year-old was re-elected to Congress for his ninth term this year and he serves on the House Judiciary, Small Business, and Agriculture committees.
House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, a Democratic representative from South Carolina, spoke out against King’s language.
“Today I denounce the words of Representative Steve King, and I do so invoking the words of another King, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who, if he had been allowed to live, would be celebrating his 90th birthday on tomorrow,” said Clyburn. “Dr. King counselled that, ‘we are going to be made to repent, not just for the hateful words and deeds of bad people, but for the appalling silence of good people.'”
King’s removal comes as GOP leaders prepare to censure him. The Republican from Iowa has been called out by numerous members of his own party, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said that he had no tolerance for King’s opinions and doesn’t believe that they reflect American values. He said that King’s position has “no place” in the Republican Party or in Congress.
Mitt Romney, a Republican senator from Utah, called King’s comments “reprehensible.”
Democratic lawmakers have pushed back against the punishment, calling for harsher consequences for King’s comments.
Despite the recent stance against King’s statements, Republicans have largely turned a blind eye to his comments in the past. In November, before the mid-term elections, King met with a far-right Austrian party with ties to neo-Nazi organizations. At the time, he used language familiar to white supremacy groups, speaking of the “great replacement,” a theory in which some believe that white people are being replaced by Jews and minorities.
Last year, he tweeted a statement that many took to be racist on Twitter.
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
These events were largely met with silence from GOP leaders.