California Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader, yesterday led Republicans in stripping Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) of his Committee assignments because of King’s recent comments in favor of white supremacy and white nationalism.
And today, he joined 423 other members of Congress voting to condemn King’s remarks to the New York Times.
Thus far, McCarthy has declined to join other top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for King’s resignation. And while sharply condemning King for his comments to the Times he has contradicted himself about when he first became aware of King’s allegedly racist stances that date back many years.
The Iowa pol has praised the positions on immigration taken by a far right Austrian party with Nazi ties, kept a Confederate flag on his desk and disparaged diversity and immigrants. He has also said some Latinos have calves “the size of elephants because they are hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
But it was King’s comments to the New York Times on January 10, which quickly went viral, that prompted McCarthy to enter the fray.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King asked. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
On “Face the Nation” Sunday McCarthy said that King’s “language has no place in America. That is not the America I know and it’s most definitely not the party of Lincoln.”
He vowed to take “action” about King.
On Monday, House Republicans voted to denude King of all his Committee assignments. He had served on the House Judiciary Committee, Agriculture Committee and Small Business Committee.
“We will not be seating Steve King on any committees in the 116th Congress,” McCarthy told journalists after the vote by the House GOP Steering Committee. “It was a unanimous decision by steering in light of the comments. This is not the first time we’ve heard these comments.”
Surely not–King’s racial broadsides are consistently heavily reported.
But in his comments to reporters, McCarthy also acted like King’s racial views were news to him.
According to the Washington Post, when McCarthy was asked why the GOP conference had waited until now to punish King McCarthy called himself “a brand new leader” who had only recently researched King’s record.
King has insisted that his use of the term “that language” was meant only to refer to Western civilization and not today’s understanding of white nationalism or white supremacy. Regardless, McCarthy said King was informed of the decision shortly after the steering committee’s decision.
“I don’t think he agreed with me. I talked to him. I let him make his case,” McCarthy said. “I looked at past comments, past research of things that have been said, and I do not think that is becoming of individuals who sit on committees.”
Congressman Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) is one of the two Democrats planning to introduce a measure against King and he applauded McCarthy’s actions to combat King’s “rabid racism.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) also chimed in on the issue telling reporters that a strong message from Congress needed to be sent.
She said “the rejection of those remarks … is very important and I don’t think the degree of it matters.. I think the fact of it matters. It’s wrong, and it’s not going to go uncondemned.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN BROWN
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