The leader of the Republican minority in the U.S. House of Representatives said Sunday that “action will be taken” against Congressman Steve King, a Republican lawmaker from rural Iowa who has questioned why the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” are offensive.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told CBS News that he is holding a “serious conversation” with the 69-year-old King on Monday, reviewing whether King should be stripped of his House committee assignments, which would leave him all but powerless to shape legislation.
King has drawn widespread condemnation after last week telling The News York Times in an interview, “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?”
After his remarks were published, King said, “I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define.” On Friday, in a House speech, he expressed regret for the “heartburn” his remarks had caused.
But McCarthy sharply condemned King’s comments.
“That language has no place in America,” McCarthy said. “That is not the America I know.”
McCarthy said he would be discussing King’s future role in the Republican party when he meets with the lawmaker.
“I will not stand back as a leader of this party, believing in this nation that all are created equal,” and let King’s remarks stand as representative of the Republican party, McCarthy said.
Senator Tim Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican, said in a Washington Post opinion article, “When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole.”
He said, “King’s views are not conservative views but separate views that should be ridiculed at every turn possible.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democratic majority, said Friday that the House would take some punitive action against King.
“We’ll see what we do about Steve King, but nonetheless, nothing is shocking anymore, right?” she told reporters. “The new normal around here is to praise white supremacists and nationalism as something that shouldn’t be shunned.”