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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 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) despite a push from some rank-and-file members to take further punitive action.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package Key Democrat unveils plan to restore limited earmarks Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission MORE (D-Md.) moved to refer a censure resolution offered by Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushHouse Democrats criticize Texas's 'shortcomings in preparations' on winter storms Over 40 lawmakers sign letter urging Merrick Garland to prioritize abolishing death penalty Woman who lived in church three years goes home under Biden deportation freeze 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) RyanTim Ryan: Prosecutors reviewing video of Capitol tours given by lawmakers before riot Acting chief acknowledges police were unprepared for mob Six ways to visualize a divided America 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 TlaibSix ways to visualize a divided America Jamaal Bowman's mother dies of COVID-19: 'I share her legacy with all of you' Democrats urge Biden FDA to drop in-person rule for abortion pill MORE (D-Mich.) earlier this month calling to “impeach the motherf---er” in reference to President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged 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 MitchellUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting Juan Williams: The GOP's betrayal of America 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 CheneyTrump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged Tomi Lahren says CPAC attendees clearly want Trump to run in 2024 Trump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars MORE (Wyo.), Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars Democrats scramble to rescue minimum wage hike Media circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden MORE (Utah) and Rep. Chris StewartChris StewartGeorgia AG rejects prosecutor's request for Rayshard Brooks case to be reassigned House Republicans ask for briefing on threats keeping National Guard in DC READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (Utah) — have called for King's resignation.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Trump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars McCarthy: No commitment from Trump to not target Republicans 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 RangelSpeaker Pelosi's change of heart on censure Pelosi rules out censure after Trump acquittal Raskin defends no witnesses deal: 'I made the call' 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 WilsonBiden faces deadline pressure on Iran deal Top Republican congressional aide resigns, rips GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden win READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results 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.