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Steve King removed from committee assignments following racist comments

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa has been removed from committee assignments following racist remarks, Hou...

Posted: Jan 15, 2019 1:13 PM
Updated: Jan 15, 2019 1:13 PM

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa has been removed from committee assignments following racist remarks, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Monday, the latest development in bipartisan condemnation of King's recent interview that appeared to lament that the term "white supremacist" is considered offensive.

McCarthy announced that the House Republican Steering Committee -- which oversees committee assignments -- met Monday night and made a decision that King "will not be serving on committees in this Congress."

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The move is just the latest reaction to King's comments, which have outraged both sides of the aisle, and spurred calls for more actions against the conservative Iowa congressman, who has a lengthy history of incendiary comments related to race and immigration. Earlier Monday, a pair of the Senate's most high-profile Republicans sharply condemned King, the highest ranking GOP officials to publicly rebuke King after comments he made to The New York Times that were sympathetic to white supremacists.

King criticized his party's move stripping of his committee assignments in a statement, saying, "Leader McCarthy's decision to remove me from committees is a political decision that ignores the truth."

"The truth is as follows: One of my quotes in a New York Times story has been completely mischaracterized," King said, going into lengthy detail of what he described as a 56-minute interview with the publication. He concluded with, "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."

While committee assignments for the new Congress have not been officially designated, King had been a member of the House Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business committees and King was also the top Republican on a Judiciary subcommittee.

Key Republicans condemn King

The criticism from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Utah freshman Sen. Mitt Romney, comes as the House plans to vote as soon as Tuesday on a resolution to disapprove of the actions of King.

"There is no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind," McConnell said in a statement released from his office. "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."

McConnell added, "If he doesn't understand why 'white supremacy' is offensive, he should find another line of work."

McConnell's statement was first reported by The Washington Post.

Romney told CNN that King should "step aside."

"I think he ought to step aside and I think Congress ought to make it very clear he has no place there," the 2012 Republican presidential nominee said on Capitol Hill.

In an interview with the Times in a story published last week, King asked, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?"

At least one of King's House GOP colleagues began calling for King's resignation Monday.

Rep. Chris Stewart said that he "absolutely" agreed with McCarthy's decision and wished King would resign.

"It's not the first time that he's said things that the party just cringes at and says, 'What in the world are you saying?" the Utah Republican told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "Cuomo Prime Time" Monday.

"I wish he'd resign frankly," Stewart said, adding, "He can't do the work. He's lost the trust and faith of his comrades. For the good of the party, for the good of the American people, I think it's time for us to make a change."

House to soon vote on disapproval

The House will vote as soon as Tuesday on the resolution to disapprove of King, Democratic sources told CNN. The resolution being proposed by South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, the No. 3 member of Democratic House leadership and the highest ranking African American member of Congress. The resolution however is not as severe as a censure resolution that other Democrats -- like Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Bobby Rush of Illinois -- are proposing.

King met Monday afternoon with McCarthy of California. McCarthy, the top Republican in the chamber, said over the weekend that King's language has "no place in America" and that "action will be taken."

"That is not the America I know, and it is most definitely not the party of Lincoln," McCarthy told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "I have a scheduled meeting with him on Monday, and I will tell you this: I've watched on the other side that they do not take action when their members say something like this. Action will be taken. I'm having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party."

On the floor of the House on Friday, King said his comments were taken out of context, saying he rejects white supremacist ideology and labels on individuals.

"I regret the heartburn that has poured forth upon this Congress and this country and especially in my state and in my congressional district," King said on the floor. "But the people who do know me know I wouldn't even have to make this statement because they know my life they know my history, they know that I have lived in the same place since 1978."

As he left the floor, King was asked by reporters if he was worried about losing his ranking member position on a House Judiciary subcommittee.

"I've had no discussion about that. I haven't given it any thought," King said. "But the more you guys write about that stuff, then it becomes an issue."

This post has been updated with additional developments Monday.

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