Last week combative Iowa Congressman Steve King was seen seemingly defending “white supremacy.” Now, after days of condemnation, GOP leadership in the House has taken away all his committee assignments as punishment.
King came under fire last Thursday for comments that were seen as supportive of “white nationalism” and “white supremacism” in comments he made to The New York Times.
The Times article was titled, “Before Trump, Steve King Set the Agenda for the Wall and Anti-Immigrant Politics,” tried to link King’s comments to his long-time support for tougher immigration laws.
In the article, the paper said:
Mr. King, in the interview, said he was not a racist. He pointed to his Twitter timeline showing him greeting Iowans of all races and religions in his Washington office. (The same office once displayed a Confederate flag on his desk.)
At the same time, he said, he supports immigrants who enter the country legally and fully assimilate because what matters more than race is “the culture of America” based on values brought to the United States by whites from Europe.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King quickly came out with a statement rejecting those definitions. “I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define,” he said in the tweeted statement.
My statement on the New York Times article. pic.twitter.com/IjBHgZYgRD
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 10, 2019
But Republicans like GOP conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) quickly condemned King’s comments as reported by the Times.
Now, five days later, GOP leadership has acted to punish King by striping him of all his committee assignments.
Per Fox News:
“We will not tolerate this type of language in the Republican Party … or in the Democratic Party as well,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters. “I watched what Steve King said and we took action.”
In a formal statement, McCarthy said King’s comments were “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. 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.”
For his part, King still maintains that his words were taken out of context by the Times.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.