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House Democrats offer measures to censure Steve King

House Democrats offer measures to censure Steve King
© Greg Nash

Two House Democrats unveiled resolutions on Monday to censure Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingWhat Martin Luther King, at 39, taught me at 35 Former Iowa House candidate calls on Democrats to build party's 'long-term vision' Feenstra wins Iowa House race to fill Steve King's seat MORE (R-Iowa) over a string of comments considered racist.

And the No. 3 House Democrat, Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), said he plans to introduce a resolution to rebuke King, but not go as far as a formal censure, while Democratic leaders decide how to act.

The efforts underlined the pressure growing on GOP leaders to take punitive action against King beyond issuing condemnatory statements.

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Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushCongress: Support the ARC Act to prevent amputations Hillicon Valley: Judge's ruling creates fresh hurdle for TikTok | House passes bills to secure energy sector against cyberattacks | Biden campaign urges Facebook to remove Trump posts spreading 'falsehoods' House passes bills to secure energy sector against cyberattacks MORE (D-Ill.), a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), was the first to announce a measure after King has faced a firestorm in recent days for questioning in a New York Times interview why the terms "white supremacist" and "white nationalist" had become "offensive."

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said in the interview. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

Rush blasted King, saying that Congress "cannot be a platform for Steve King and those of his ilk," and compared him to a rabid animal.

"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," Rush said in a statement.

"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 added.

Rush's office indicated that his resolution will be brought up under what's known as a "privileged" process, which would automatically trigger a vote on the House floor.

Just more than an hour later, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanJill Biden visits Capitol to thank National Guard Capitol officer claims MAGA hat was part of ruse to rescue colleagues: report Tim Ryan, Rosa DeLauro giving free coffee and donuts to National Guard stationed at Capitol MORE (D-Ohio) introduced a separate censure resolution against King.

Ryan's resolution states that King's comments "legitimize White supremacy and White nationalism as acceptable in today's society" and "are abhorrent to the founding principles of our nation and our rich history of diversity and tolerance of those who backgrounds and beliefs have made America the envy of the world."

"It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican, we all have a responsibility to call out Rep. King’s hateful and racist comments," Ryan said in a statement. "It’s far past time that Congress holds him accountable."

Clyburn indicated he didn't want to go as far as censure because King's comments were made in an interview, rather than on the House floor. But he maintained that the House should act nonetheless.

"We've got to break our silence on these kinds of things," Clyburn said, according to The Washington Post.

Rush further called for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop House GOP leader says he has 'concerns' over Cheney's impeachment vote McCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden MORE (R-Calif.) to remove King from his committee assignments "until he apologizes for his racism." The rest of the CBC made a similar call over the weekend for King to lose his committee assignments.

"Anything less than these substantive actions is another tacit acceptance of racism from the Republican Party," CBC Chairwoman Karen BassKaren Ruth BassDemocrats point fingers on whether Capitol rioters had inside help Rep. Bass tweets photo of Trump in response to FBI call for information on rioters San Francisco mayor says Harris replacement pick 'a real blow to the African American community' MORE (D-Calif.) said.

House GOP leaders have not yet made final decisions on committee assignments for rank-and-file members.

But King served as chairman of a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice in the last Congress and could stand to serve as its ranking minority member.

McCarthy told CBS's "Face the Nation" that he is reviewing whether to let King keep his committee assignments ahead of a meeting with King late Monday afternoon. A spokesman for King didn't immediately return a request for comment on the meeting.

"Action will be taken. I'm having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King about his future and role in this Republican Party," McCarthy told "Face the Nation." "I will not stand back as a leader of this party, believing in this nation that all are created equal, that that stands or continues to stand and have any role with us."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop Harry Reid 'not particularly optimistic' Biden will push to eliminate filibuster Senators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.) also rebuked King, saying in a statement that "Rep. King's statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position. If he doesn't understand why 'white supremacy' is offensive, he should find another line of work."

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBiden officials hold call with bipartisan group of senators on coronavirus relief plan Five examples of media's sycophancy for Biden on inauguration week Romney: Total figure for Biden coronavirus stimulus is 'pretty shocking' MORE (R-Utah), the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, went a step further than McConnell and told CNN that King should resign: “I think he ought to step aside and I think Congress ought to make it very clear he has no place there.”

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop More hands needed on the nuclear football Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus MORE (D-Calif.) said Friday that punitive action will be taken against King, but didn't specify if it would be censure.

“We’ll see what we do about Steve King but nonetheless, nothing is shocking anymore, right? The new normal around here is to praise white supremacists and nationalism as something that shouldn’t be shunned,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.

“But needless to say, there’s interest in doing something.”

King issued a statement Thursday and delivered a House floor speech on Friday distancing himself from white nationalism and white supremacy.

“I reject that ideology. I defend American civilization, which is an essential component of Western civilization,” King said on the House floor.

King has a long history of inflammatory comments about race and immigration.

King drew condemnation in 2013 from then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCan the GOP break its addiction to show biz? House conservatives plot to oust Liz Cheney Ex-Speaker Boehner after Capitol violence: 'The GOP must awaken' MORE (R-Ohio) after saying in an interview with Newsmax that for every undocumented immigrant who becomes a valedictorian, "there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."

In 2016, King questioned the historical contributions of nonwhite "subgroups" during an MSNBC segment, saying, "Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

King tweeted in 2017 that “we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies" while sharing a story about a far-right Dutch politician.

He also publicly supported a white nationalist candidate for Toronto mayor last year, retweeted a Nazi sympathizer and told an Austrian publication, “What does this diversity bring that we don’t already have?”

At the time, King's actions drew condemnation from the then-National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversRomney: Total figure for Biden coronavirus stimulus is 'pretty shocking' GOP lawmaker says he'd OK ,400 stimulus checks for people who receive COVID-19 vaccine The Hill's Morning Report - Trump finally concedes; 25th Amendment pressure grows MORE (R-Ohio).

The House has rarely taken formal votes to rebuke one of its own members.

The last House member to be formally censured was then-Rep. Charlie RangelCharles (Charlie) Bernard RangelDon't leave this election's results up to the lawyers Dem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King House Democrats offer measures to censure Steve King MORE (D-N.Y.) in 2010 over a slew of ethics violations that included misuse of congressional letterhead for political fundraising and inaccurate tax returns.

And the last member to be formally reprimanded was then-Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) in 2012 for pressuring congressional staff to work for her campaign.

Updated at 6:18 p.m.