WASHINGTON — Republicans stripped Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) of his committee assignments this evening in response to comments the nine-term congressman made last week to the New York Times.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King told the New York Times last week. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King later said in a statement that “under any fair political definition, I am simply a Nationalist” and “this conviction does not make me a white nationalist or a white supremacist.”
King had been a member of the House Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business committees, and led the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice in the 115th Congress. After a recommendation from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House Republican Steering Committee voted unanimously to not seat King on any committees.
“Steve’s remarks are 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,” McCarthy said in a statement. “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.”
King fired back in a statement that the punishment is “a political decision that ignores the truth.”
“When I used the word ‘THAT’ it was in reference ONLY to Western Civilization and NOT to any previously stated evil ideology ALL of which I have denounced. My record as a vocal advocate for Western Civilization is nearly as full as my record in defense of Freedom of Speech,” King said.
McCarthy and King met behind closed doors earlier in the day.
“Ultimately, I told him ‘You have to do what you have to do and I will do what I have to do.’ I will continue to point out the truth and work with all the vigor that I have to represent 4th District Iowans for at least the next two years,” King said.
The House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution of disapproval introduced by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), which notes the FBI definitions of white supremacist and white nationalist and states that both ideologies “are contrary to the ideals of the United States of America, which was established according to the principle stated in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal, a principle that was updated in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, to include all people.”
“While our country has often fallen short of these ideals, patriotic Americans have sought to form a more perfect Union by rejecting White nationalism and White supremacy, embracing inclusive patriotism, and welcoming immigrants from across the globe who have continuously enriched our Nation,” the resolution adds.
The resolution also includes Ronald Reagan quotes on the benefits of immigration, a recognition of spikes in hate crimes in the past three years of FBI crime statistics, and mentions of mass shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 and at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018.
“The House of Representatives once again rejects White nationalism and White supremacy as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States,” the resolution concludes.
Asked about King’s comments at the White House today, President Trump said, “I don’t — I haven’t been following it. I really haven’t been following it.”