Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has a knack for championing the ridiculous. But now he’s being called out for opposing the obvious. Last Friday, some of King’s constituents gathered outside his Sioux city office to demand an explanation for his vote against the Tribal Law and Order Act, legislation “designed to ease the stubbornly high rates of violent crime, including rape and sexual assault, within Indian reservations.”
Three years in the making, the measure finally “gives tribal courts tougher sentencing powers” to combat the declining rate of prosecutions (which are at 50% for murders and 30% for rape and sexual assault). And with one in three Native American women likely to be raped and more than 86 percent of these rapes being carried out by non-native, mostly white men, the need for this legislation was evident.
Despite overwhelming support for the bill, King was one of only 92 Republicans — including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) — and the only member of the Iowa delegation to vote against the legislation in July. And while he “got a little memo” about the protest last week, King failed to offer any real explanation for his opposition. Instead, he called the protest “a campaign stunt” and declared the protesters, many of them Native American women, ignorant of “what law they’re talking about”:
“They’ve never contacted me about this issue.This is completely a campaign stunt, and it should be viewed as that,” said King.
King would not answer why he voted against the legislation.
“They don’t even know what law they’re talking about,” said King. King would not give an answer why he voted against the law, but many of the Native American women felt like he was not looking out for their well being.
Watch local coverage here:
King’s flippant dismissal doesn’t change the fact that his actions “put us in harm’s way,” said one Native American woman. “As women, we are very much in distress, and feel very unsafe at this time in Fifth District under the leadership of Mr. Steve King.” His democratic opponent and protest participant Matt Campbell called his opposition “appalling,” “particularly when the rest of the Iowa Congressional delegation including Tom Latham [R-IA] voted for the measure.”