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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 KingPence to visit Iowa to headline event for congressman Former Steve King challenger on rural voters in GOP states: 'They hate Democrats' First Democrat announces Senate bid against Iowa's Grassley MORE (R-Iowa) despite a push from some rank-and-file members to take further punitive action.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerBiden signs Juneteenth bill: 'Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments' House passes political spending, climate change corporate disclosures bill House to vote Wednesday on making Juneteenth a federal holiday MORE (D-Md.) moved to refer a censure resolution offered by Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushGranholm expresses openness to pipeline cyber standards after Colonial attack Feds eye more oversight of pipelines after Colonial attack Shining a light on COINTELPRO's dangerous legacy 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) RyanJ.D. Vance emerges as wild card in Ohio GOP Senate primary 9 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022 Biden faces dilemma on Trump steel tariffs 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 TlaibHouse Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias Omar: I wasn't equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries MORE (D-Mich.) earlier this month calling to “impeach the motherf---er” in reference to President TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care 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 MitchellFormer Rep. Paul Mitchell announces renal cancer diagnosis Unnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting 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 CheneyCheney: 'It is disgusting and despicable' to see Gosar 'lie' about Jan. 6 GOP's Stefanik defends Trump DOJ secret subpoenas McCarthy pushes back on Biden criticism of GOP at NATO MORE (Wyo.), Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE (Utah) and Rep. Chris StewartChris StewartStudents sue Atlanta police after being shocked with a stun gun, pulled from car EPA administrator: We don't plan to return 'verbatim' to Obama-era water regulation On management of Utah public lands, Biden should pursue an accountable legislative process MORE (Utah) — have called for King's resignation.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyGOP increasingly balks at calling Jan. 6 an insurrection House Democrats' campaign arm raises almost million in May Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision 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 RangelThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs Speaker Pelosi's change of heart on censure Pelosi rules out censure after Trump acquittal 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 WilsonAll House Republicans back effort to force floor vote on 'born alive' bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Masks off: CDC greenlights return to normal for vaccinated Americans Stefanik shake-up jump-starts early jockeying for committee posts 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.