Two Censure Resolutions Introduced Against King Over White Supremacist Remark

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol on Nov. 28, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) faces two censure resolutions and a resolution of disapproval from House Democrats today as the House GOP leader met with the congressman to discuss his recent remarks on white supremacy.

“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.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told CBS on Sunday, “That language has no place in America. That is not the America I know. And it’s most definitely not the party of Lincoln.”

McCarthy vowed “action will be taken” but didn’t specify what that would entail. “I’m having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party,” he said.

The first censure resolution introduced today against King came from Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who said that King’s “pattern of despicable comments harken back to the dark days of American history where his rabid, racist remarks would have been acceptable to a significant portion of our nation.”

“He has become too comfortable with proudly insulting, disrespecting, and denigrating people of color.  As with any animal that is rabid, Steve King should be set aside and isolated.  His rabid racism continues to stain and embarrass this body and the years of deliberate silence from Republicans have only emboldened his ignorant and immoral behavior and empowered those who emulate him,” Rush continued.

He called on McCarthy “to withhold from Steve King the privilege of serving on any committee until he apologizes for his racism.”

Rush’s resolution lists comments from King, including a 2006 suggestion by the congressman to electrify the border fence like migrants are livestock, his 2013 bill against citizenship for “anchor babies,” his 2016 comment that “the idea of multiculturalism, that every culture is equal — that’s not objectively true,” his 2017 tweet that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” and more.

“King’s statements have drawn praise from known White supremacists like former Ku KluxKlan leader David Duke,” the resolution continues. “…King dishonors not only immigrants but every American with his racist and xenophobic rhetoric.”

The separate resolution from Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) doesn’t go into King’s past comments, but simply cites the NYT quotes and said the congressman aimed to “legitimize white supremacy and white nationalism as acceptable in today’s society.”

King’ comments “are abhorrent to the founding principles of our Nation and our rich history of diversity and tolerance of those whose backgrounds and beliefs have made America the envy of the world,” the resolution adds.

If either censure resolution passes, King must stand in the well on the House floor and listen to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) read the resolution aloud.

Censure was last used in 2010 against Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) for ethics violations.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), though, said today that a censure would go too far considering King made the comments to a reporter instead of on the floor of the House.

Clyburn plans to introduce a resolution of disapproval, which will require a two-thirds vote and will more broadly condemn white supremacism.

A resolution of disapproval introduced by Clyburn was approved against Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) in 2009 after he shouted “You lie!” at President Obama during a joint address to Congress.