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 KingIowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats Ocasio-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 MORE (R-Iowa) despite a push from some rank-and-file members to take further punitive action.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases House to vote this month on legislation to combat foreign interference in elections MORE (D-Md.) moved to refer a censure resolution offered by 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.) 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) John Ryan2020 Presidential Candidates Democrats decry Trump's push to slash number of accepted refugees Harris on whistleblower complaint: 'This is a cover-up' 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 TlaibTlaib says Democrats have discussed detaining White House officials who don't testify The 13 House Democrats who back Kavanaugh's impeachment Detroit police chief calls Tlaib facial recognization idea 'racist' MORE (D-Mich.) earlier this month calling to “impeach the motherf---er” in reference to President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China 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 MitchellHouse Republicans voice concerns about White House's impeachment messaging Trump rails against whistleblower, 'spy' within administration GOP lawmaker pushes back against Trump's attack on whistleblower 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 CheneyFive ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble On The Money: Trump announces limited trade deal with China | Appeals court rules against Trump over financial records | Trump expands authority to sanction Turkey Trump expands his authority to sanction Turkey amid Syria offensive MORE (Wyo.), Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyMcConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP Romney brushes off Trump criticism: 'I don't follow the president on Twitter' MORE (Utah) and Rep. Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartHouse GOP Intel member: 'Why should I care about' another Trump whistleblower Sunday shows - Second whistleblower grabs spotlight Democrats are 'giddy over' impeachment inquiry, Republican says MORE (Utah) — have called for King's resignation.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyFive ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble The Hill's Morning Report — Arrest of Giuliani associates triggers many questions Cheney slated to introduce bill to place sanctions on Turkey 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 WilsonThe Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' GOP lawmaker: 'Dangerous' abuse of Interpol by Russia, China, Venezuela Washington Post fact-checker gives Plame three Pinocchios for Libby claim 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.