WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Iowa Congressman Steve King was stripped of his committee assignments by Republican leaders for this statement he made in a New York Times interview:
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
On the House floor Tuesday, King tried to clarify he was only asking how the term “western civilization” was offensive, not white nationalism or white supremacy. However, rather than taking his side, some members of his own party such as Sen. Mitt Romney and Rep. Chris Stewart have called on him to resign.
The same day, the House of Representatives passed a resolution stating that the chamber “Rejects white nationalism and white supremacy as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”
Congressman King voted in support of the measure.
“I agree with that language, so I want to complement the gentleman from South Carolina for bringing this resolution, and I’ve carefully studied every word in this resolution and even though I’d add some more that are stronger language, I agree with the language in it,” he said in a speech to his colleagues.
For House Republicans, the damage was done. Leadership removed King the House Agriculture Committee. Tuesday afternoon, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued this statement:
“These types of comments are offensive and are not representative of Iowa or the 4th district. As a leading ag state, losing representation on the House Ag Committee is disappointing. I will continue to work with our congressional delegation and the administration to be sure issues that are important to Iowa agriculture continue to be heard in Washington.”
King’s constituents in the fourth district were quiet on the topic. Those who Channel 13 spoke with off-camera did not wish to speak on the record. Douglas Burns, co-owner of two newspapers in King’s district say many of his voters are choosing the party, not the man.
“I think people have voted for him, many people have voted for him in spite of it. I’ve talked to a number of business leaders and others who find his language aberrant but made a very tactical vote because they wanted to keep the house in republican hands,” said Burns.
Fourth District Republicans may have a new GOP option. State Sen. Randy Feenstra plans to run against King in 2020, seizing upon Tuesday’s news on Twitter.
“Today, Northwest Iowa doesn’t have a voice in Congress because Steve King’s caustic nature has left us without a seat at the table. It’s time to #RetireSteveKing,” said Feenstra.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst rebuked King’s comments and said his future should be in the hands of fourth district voters. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who campaigned with King for her 2018 governor’s run, says she will not back him in the 2020 primary.