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 KingTop conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill Castro forms PAC, boosts five House candidates Man sentenced for throwing glass of water at Steve King MORE (R-Iowa) despite a push from some rank-and-file members to take further punitive action.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerProcedural politics: What just happened with the coronavirus bill? DC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Lysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House MORE (D-Md.) moved to refer a censure resolution offered by Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushBobby Rush wins Illinois House primary Illinois governor endorses Biden one day before primary Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins 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) RyanDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Lawmakers call for universal basic income amid coronavirus crisis Democrats tear into Trump's speech: It was a 'MAGA rally' 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 TlaibDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Pressley, Tlaib introduce bill providing .5B in emergency grants for the homeless MORE (D-Mich.) earlier this month calling to “impeach the motherf---er” in reference to President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report 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 MitchellHundreds of thousands of masks missing from federal shipments to Michigan On The Money: Pelosi announces deal over coronavirus package | Questions remain about Trump's support | Trump declares national emergency | Stocks rally to close out wild week Lawmakers call on IRS to push back tax filing deadline 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 CheneySelf-quarantined New York lawmaker: 'We should be in total lockdown' On The Money: Trump hopes to reopen economy by Easter | GOP senators expect stimulus vote on Wednesday | Democratic leaders forecast at least two more relief bills Trump triggers congressional debate with comments on reopening economy MORE (Wyo.), Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump selects White House lawyer for coronavirus inspector general Overnight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill On The Money: Economy sheds 701K jobs in March | Why unemployment checks could take weeks | Confusion surrounds 9B in small-business loans MORE (Utah) and Rep. Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartPentagon grapples with coronavirus outbreak Schiff says Democrats are negotiating to include more privacy protections in key surveillance bill Trump shakes up Justice Department, intelligence community MORE (Utah) — have called for King's resignation.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyPelosi scales back coronavirus infrastructure proposal Democrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Top GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid 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 myth about Puerto Rican statehood that won't go away Overnight Defense: Republicans sound alarm on Taliban deal | Trump speaks with Taliban leader | 19 states sue over border wall funding | Pentagon pushes back on NY Times report about coronavirus response House Republicans sound the alarm on Taliban deal 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.