Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush (IL) said Monday he would introduce legislation to officially censure Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for the latter’s continued and unabashed support of white nationalism.
King’s track record of white supremacist support includes retweeting a British neo-Nazi, referring to immigrants as “dirt” and, in a recent interview with The New York Times, asking why terms like “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” were considered offensive.
His most recent statements have since reignited debate over whether King should be formally reprimanded by House Republicans. Rush, a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to remove King from serving on any committee until he apologizes.
“Steve King’s pattern of despicable comments harken back to the dark days of American history where his rabid, racist remarks would have been acceptable to a significant portion of our nation,” Rush said in a statement. “This must come to a screeching halt right now. The U.S. Congress cannot be a platform for Steve King and those of his ilk.”
“[King] has become too comfortable with proudly insulting, disrespecting, and denigrating people of color,” Rush continued. “As with any animal that is rabid, Steve King should be set aside and isolated.”
After years of ignoring King’s virulent rhetoric, the intense public scrutiny the Iowa congressman is now facing has forced Republicans to address the issue head on.
On Sunday, McCarthy said King’s language has “no place in America and not the party of Lincoln,” promising to have a “serious conversation” about King’s role within the GOP. That same day, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said King’s comments were “hurtful” and “wrong,” though he declined to say whether or not he would support any attempt to censure him.
In his statement Monday, Rush also made sure to comment on the Republican Party’s feckless approach to King’s past racism. “In the interest of political expediency, [Republicans] sought his endorsement, ignored his racist remarks, and continued to elevate him to positions of influence,” he said. “Only now that his behavior is well known to those outside the beltway and tainted him politically, do they vigorously denounce him.”
It remains to be seen whether King will indeed face a formal censure. Since 1832, there have only been 23 censures in the House of Representatives, most modern examples of which were due to corruption. The last time a member of Congress was formally censured was in 2010, when Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) was reprimanded for “impermissible use of rent-controlled facility for campaign headquarters” and “inaccurate financial reports and federal tax returns.”
UPDATE, 8:00 p.m. EST: Rep. Steve King has lost his positions on the House Judiciary and Agricultural Committees following a Monday night vote, according to a report in the New York Times. Republican Reps. Tim Ryan and Dave Joyce (OH) will also reportedly introduce a formal motion to censure King.