Racist Rep. Steve King claims his party's done punishing him for being racist

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The Iowa Republican claimed he and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had 'reached an understanding.'

Iowa Rep. Steve King (R), an avowed white nationalist, claimed in a radio interview this week that he and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had reached an agreement to reinstate him to his former congressional committee assignments.

King was removed from the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees last year after he questioned when white supremacy had "become offensive" during a New York Times interview.

"Kevin McCarthy and I have reached an understanding," King told local radio station KSCJ on Monday. "The only barrier in the way of putting back all my committees, perhaps incrementally as there are openings that can be created, is to get a formal meeting of the Steering Committee because they're officially the ones who make that decision."

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He added that it "wasn't right to make him wait until after the November election" to reinstate him to his former assignments, KSCJ noted.

McCarthy's office did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the matter.

 

In January 2019, King gave an interview to the Times in which he asked, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?"

"Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?" he added.

According to the Times, King also claimed he was "not a racist" and supported "immigrants who enter the country legally and fully assimilate because what matters more than race is 'the culture of America' based on values brought to the United States by whites from Europe."

He issued a statement a day later calling himself a "nationalist" and saying he supported "western civilization’s values."

King was removed from all his committee assignments days later.

King has a long history of making racist remarks.

In 2013, he attacked undocumented youth from Mexico, claiming they had "calves the size of cantaloupes because they've been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."

In 2018, he claimed that a European anti-immigrant group with ties to Nazis shared the same agenda as the Republican Party.

Although Republicans were quick to eject King from his assignments following his interview with the Times, the party has largely ignored his xenophobic and openly racist remarks for years.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) named King as the co-chair of his 2016 presidential campaign, and in 2018, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) gave King a glowing endorsement.

"Iowa needs Steve King in Congress," Grassley said at the time. "I also need Steve King in Congress."

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), who is up for reelection in 2020, stood alongside King in the final days of the 2018 campaign, just weeks after King endorsed a Toronto mayoral candidate with neo-Nazi ties.

As the Times itself later noted, Republican leaders only removed King from his seat last year in an apparent attempt "to appear tough on racism." McCarthy himself acknowledged King's history of racist remarks before saying he would not remove King from the House GOP conference altogether, in order to allow the congressman to "attend...party meetings."

He said it was up to the people of Iowa to decide whether King should remain in office.

Even after some Republicans condemned King for his remarks to the Times, others defended him. Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina objected to King losing his committee seats, and King, in return, praised Norman as "a noble man who understands an injustice" when he sees it.

In June 2019, several conservative Republicans, including Norman and Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Paul Gosar of Arizona, attempted to reinstate King to his committees.

The effort failed.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.