House GOP leaders moved Monday to remove Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingGOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Pence to visit Iowa to headline event for congressman Former Steve King challenger on rural voters in GOP states: 'They hate Democrats' MORE (R-Iowa) from all of his committee assignments following a firestorm over remarks considered racist.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyWoodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China Thompson says he hopes Jan 6. committee can complete work by 'early spring' Juan Williams: Shame on the anti-mandate Republicans MORE (R-Calif.) told reporters after a meeting of the Republican Steering Committee that King would not receive any committee assignments for the new Congress.
King faced bipartisan criticism after telling The New York Times in an interview published last week, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
King had been a member of the House Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business committees. He had also served as chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice in the last Congress, and could have stood to serve as its ranking member under the Democratic majority.
The move by GOP leaders severely hamstrings King's ability to wield influence as a member of Congress. The Agriculture Committee in particular is considered a prime spot for lawmakers like King who represent states with agricultural industries.
"We will not be seating Steve King on any committees in the 116th Congress," McCarthy told reporters.
King insisted that his remarks were taken out of context and criticized McCarthy's decision.
“Leader McCarthy’s decision to remove me from committees is a political decision that ignores the truth," King said in a statement.
But King made no indication that he plans to resign.
"Ultimately, I told him ‘You have to do what you have to do and I will do what I have to do.’ I will continue to point out the truth and work with all the vigor that I have to represent 4th District Iowans for at least the next two years," King said.
"When I used the word ‘THAT’ it was in reference ONLY to Western Civilization and NOT to any previously stated evil ideology ALL of which I have denounced. My record as a vocal advocate for Western Civilization is nearly as full as my record in defense of Freedom of Speech."
House Democrats are expected to put a resolution introduced by Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) on the floor for a vote on Tuesday to formally disapprove of King's remarks.
Two other House Democrats unveiled resolutions earlier Monday to censure King.
McCarthy expressed openness to possibly supporting a vote on the floor against King, telling reporters: "I'd read the resolution, but I do not agree with his remarks. I would support something saying that I did not agree with his remarks."
Earlier Monday, Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGraham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet GOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Utah), the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, called for King to resign.
McCarthy declined to say if King should step down or be expelled from the House GOP conference, saying that "the voters of his district make those decisions."
King has a long history of creating firestorms with remarks about race and immigration, especially in more recent years. Until now, GOP leaders had condemned his remarks without taking concrete punitive action.
In 2013, King said 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." Then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying world A new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE (R-Ohio) at the time called King's comments "deeply offensive and wrong.”
And 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."
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?”
— Updated at 8:23 p.m.