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 KingDem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King McCarthy rejects idea of censuring Steve King Impeachment for bigotry in policy must not be ignored 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 RushDem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King McCarthy rejects idea of censuring Steve King King rips GOP leadership after criticism over 'white supremacist' remarks 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) John RyanHow Pelosi is punishing some critics while rewarding others Dem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King McCarthy rejects idea of censuring Steve King 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 Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Dem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King McCarthy rejects idea of censuring Steve King 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 BassHouse vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House Democrats offer measures to censure Steve King Congressional Black Caucus calls for Steve King to be removed from committees 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 McConnellOcasio-Cortez rips Trump in first House floor speech: 'It is not normal to shut down the government when we don’t get what we want' Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal Supporters leave notes on plaque outside Ocasio-Cortez's office 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 RomneyDem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King GOP reasserts NATO support after report on Trump’s wavering House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King 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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions 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 BoehnerHouse vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House passes resolution condemning white nationalism GOP leaders strip Steve King of committee assignments 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 StiversHouse vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House passes resolution condemning white nationalism House Democrats offer measures to censure Steve King 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 RangelDem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King House Democrats offer measures to censure Steve King Democrats enter brave new world with House majority in Trump era 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.