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McConnell rebukes Steve King over white nationalist comments

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday rebuked Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingIn Marjorie Taylor Greene, a glimpse of the future House votes to kick Greene off committees over embrace of conspiracy theories LIVE COVERAGE: House debates removing Greene from committees 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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation Durbin: Garland likely to get confirmation vote next week MORE (R-Iowa), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstWe know how Republicans will vote — but what do they believe? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending Overnight Defense: Pentagon says extremist groups 'very aggressively recruit' troops | Capitol Guard deployment estimated at 3M | No US combat deaths in Afghanistan for a year | VA secretary confirmed 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."