McConnell rebukes Steve King over white nationalist comments

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday rebuked Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingFormer Iowa Gov. Vilsack won't challenge Ernst for Senate in 2020 Steve King says he will run again in 2020: 'I have nothing to apologize for' The Hill's Morning Report - What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down MORE (R-Iowa) for a series of remarks that many have denounced as racist.

McConnell's denunciation of King comes as House Democrats considered sanctions for King, who last week questioned why the terms "white supremacist" and "white nationalist" are considered "offensive."

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"I have no tolerance for such positions and those who espouse these views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms,” McConnell said in a statement to The Hill.

“Rep. King’s statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position," McConnell added. "If he doesn’t understand why ‘white supremacy’ is offensive, he should find another line of work.”

He commended other senators who have spoken out against King, including Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Drug pricing fight centers on insulin MORE (R-Iowa), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstFormer Iowa Gov. Vilsack won't challenge Ernst for Senate in 2020 Push for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 Ivanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation MORE (R-Iowa), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.). 

McConnell's was first reported by The Washington Post.

McConnell's statement makes him the highest-ranking Republican have spoken out against King since the controversial New York Times interview was released.

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

King has long faced accusations of racism and bigotry, which were reignited last year when conservative policy magazine The Weekly Standard posted audio of the Iowa Republican apparently referring to Mexican immigrants as "dirt."

Two House Democrats on Monday unveiled resolutions to censure King over the comments. 

"He has become too comfortable with proudly insulting, disrespecting and denigrating people of color," Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who was the first to announce a measure, said on Monday. "As with any animal that is rabid, Steve King should be set aside and isolated."

House GOP leaders have not yet made final decisions on committee assignments for multiple members, but King, who served as chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice in the last Congress, could stand to serve as its ranking minority member.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Sunday vowed that "action will be taken" against King.

"I'm having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King about his future and role in this Republican Party," McCarthy told CBS's "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."