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 KingOcasio-Cortez rips Steve King after he shares video drinking from toilet-fountain hybrid at border Steve King says he drank from toilet at detention center Steve King jokes about China forcing Muslims to eat pork 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 RushHouse Democrats blur lines on support for impeachment Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries 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 RyanOvernight Energy: Top presidential candidates to skip second climate forum | Group sues for info on 'attempts to politicize' NOAA | Trump allows use of oil reserve after Saudi attacks Five top 2020 Democrats haven't committed to MSNBC climate forum Progressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum 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 McCarthyBudowsky: Donald, Boris, Bibi — The right in retreat Hoyer calls on GOP leader to denounce 'despicable' ad attacking Ocasio-Cortez The Hill's Morning Report - Trump eyes narrowly focused response to Iran attacks 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 BassCBC marks 400th anniversary of slaves' arrival in US Senate could protect girls from sexual exploitation — but will it? King incites furor with abortion, rape and incest remarks 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 McConnellLawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills Budowsky: Donald, Boris, Bibi — The right in retreat Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet 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 RomneyFormer Bush staffer urges 'fellow Latinos' to vote Trump 'out of office' Lobbying World Republicans wary of US action on Iran 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 PelosiPelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Democrats bicker over strategy on impeachment Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi set to unveil drug price plan | Abortion rate in US hits lowest level since Roe v. Wade | Dems threaten to subpoena Juul 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 BoehnerBoehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' 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 StiversBill requiring carbon monoxide detectors in public housing passes House The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Republicans offer support for Steve King challenger 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.