Dem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King

Dem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King
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House Democratic leaders averted a potentially divisive vote to censure embattled Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingWith surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response Steve King challenger: 2020 Democrats have 'huge' opportunity to win over rural America Author sues NY Times after it calls him a 'white nationalist' MORE (R-Iowa) despite a push from some rank-and-file members to take further punitive action.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse revives agenda after impeachment storm House poised to hand impeachment articles to Senate House to vote on Iran war powers bills sought by progressives MORE (D-Md.) moved to refer a censure resolution offered by Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushLawmaker calls for hearing into MLB cheating scandal Hillicon Valley: Facebook to still allow misinformation in ads under new rules | New child privacy bill in House | Election vendors support more federal oversight House lawmakers introduce bill to protect children's privacy online MORE (D-Ill.) to the Ethics Committee, which was quickly adopted by voice vote.

Democratic leaders had grappled Wednesday with how to proceed on efforts from Rush and Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanOffice of Technology Assessment: It's time for a second coming Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far GM among partners planning .3B battery plant in Ohio MORE (D-Ohio) to censure King for questioning why the terms white supremacist and white nationalist had become offensive.

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Some Democrats want to go farther than the House's approval on Tuesday of a resolution condemning white supremacy that, while aimed at King, doesn't rebuke him directly.

Rush said he's "disappointed" that the House isn't voting to censure King. But he said he will reserve the right to force a vote on his resolution if King ignites another controversy with racist remarks.

"If Steve King utters one more type of racist commentary, then I reserve the right to bring it up out of the Ethics Committee," Rush told reporters outside the House chamber.

Ryan also threatened to force action on censure if King makes more inflammatory remarks.

"I think the next time something like this happens we'll bring it up and it'll be in committee. We'll bring it up and I think we'd move to expel him at that point. So hopefully this will be enough discipline to prevent this from happening and we can all move on with our lives," Ryan told reporters.

Some Democrats were worried that censuring King could turn into a slippery slope.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) expressed concern that censure might not be the right action for King, given that the controversial comments were made in a New York Times interview and not an official setting like the House floor.

Clyburn said he is not personally opposed to censure, but suggested it could set a negative precedent given that King’s remarks were not made on the House floor.

"I don't know that it's a good thing for us to talk about censure for things that are done outside of the business of the House of Representatives. And that's why, to me, we should be very, very careful about doing anything that constrains — or seems to constrain — speech," Clyburn said Wednesday.

The resolution that the House adopted on Tuesday, which Clyburn authored, was designed to draw bipartisan support by only directly condemning "white nationalism and white supremacy as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States."

It only makes a reference to King's comments to the New York Times, in which he asked: "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?"

King himself voted for the resolution in an effort to demonstrate that he opposes white supremacy.

Rush called Clyburn's resolution "almost meaningless" and "political hanky-panky." 

One factor that Democrats are likely considering is that Republicans could seek to bring censure resolutions against Democrats.

Republicans have pointed to comments from freshman Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibJayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Jayapal endorses Sanders Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements MORE (D-Mich.) earlier this month calling to “impeach the motherf---er” in reference to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' MORE.

“If you're going to do that, then let's talk about it in terms of standards for all members of Congress, which is, we ought to conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects well upon our nation and our constituencies. And I don't believe that either of them have. And that's embarrassing,” Rep. Paul MitchellPaul MitchellSteve King challenger: 2020 Democrats have 'huge' opportunity to win over rural America The Hill's Morning Report — Impeachment face-off; Dems go after Buttigieg in debate Trump's Dingell insults disrupt GOP unity amid impeachment MORE (R-Mich.) told The Hill last week.

Mitchell said he'd “probably vote in favor” of censuring King if there was also an opportunity to censure Tlaib.

House GOP leaders earlier this week voted to strip King of all committee assignments for the new Congress. Three Republicans — House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders, Warren feud rattles Democrats The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate receives impeachment articles as trial opens MORE (Wyo.), Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney pledges 'open mind' ahead of impeachment trial Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight MORE (Utah) and Rep. Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartGOP lawmaker offering bill protecting LGBTQ rights with religious exemptions House GOP wants Senate Republicans to do more on impeachment How House Republicans have stayed unified on impeachment MORE (Utah) — have called for King's resignation.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCalifornia sues Trump administration over fracking Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 MORE (R-Calif.) rejected the idea of censuring King, telling "The Ralph Bailey Show" on Tuesday that "I think at this point we should move on."

Other votes in the past to formally rebuke members of the House typically involved official misconduct.

The vote to censure former 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 came over ethics violations that included using congressional letterhead for fundraising.

And the House formally reprimanded Rep. Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonValerie Plame: 'I'm alarmed' over escalation with Iran Paralysis of nations is empowering cities Bipartisan lawmakers condemn Iran, dispute State Department on number of protesters killed MORE (R-S.C.) in 2009 after he shouted "You lie!" at then-President Obama during a joint address to Congress. The House most recently voted in 2012 to reprimand former Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) for pressuring official congressional staff to work for her campaign.

-Updated 6:54 p.m.