Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, has been frequently criticized for comments and viewpoints that have been seen as racist. King was even stripped of his committee assignments earier this year, after he gave a New York Times interview in which he asked why “white nationalist” and “white supremacy” are now seeing as negative terms.
Now, King has made another statement along those lines. According to Louisiana television station WBRZ, King this week disparaged victims of Hurricane Katrina, drawing a negative contrast between his own constituents in Iowa who have dealt with flooding this year.
Speaking at a town hall event in Charter Oak, Iowa, King praised his own, mostly white constituents, stating “we’re Iowans, and I’m always proud of our reaction to this.” He went on to say that he had made four trips down to New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina in 2005.
“I saw that from the air and from the ground and went back and did what we could to help those folks down there,” King said.
“But here’s what FEMA tells me: ‘We go to a place like New Orleans and everybody’s looking around saying, who’s gonna help me, who’s gonna help me? We got to a place like Iowa and we go knock on the door and… they’re always gratified when they see how Iowans take care of each other.”
The implication that people in Iowa were more grateful, and less dependent on government help, than those in majority-black New Orleans drew immediate pushback.
The congressman told a crowd in Iowa that an unnamed FEMA official told him that Katrina victims only looked for government help, as opposed to Iowans who “take care of each other." https://t.co/OjyqUrwKTH
— New Orleans Advocate (@theadvocateno) March 21, 2019
“These comments are disgusting and disheartening,” John Bel Edwards, the Democratic governor of Louisiana, said on Twitter Thursday. “When communities are affected by disasters, we come together to help each other, not tear each other down.” The Louisiana Democratic Party went on to ask House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who is from Louisiana, to condemn King as well.
In 2009, per ThinkProgress, King said in an interview that his favorite vote that he has ever cast in Congress was when he voted no on a $51.5 billion Hurricane Katrina aid package, even though he was only a handful of members of the House who opposed those funds.
During a campaign debate three years later, per The Huffington Post, King said he opposed certain disaster aid packages because following Katrina, the appropriated money had been spent on “Gucci bags and massage parlors and everything you can think of in addition to what was necessary.”