Rep. Steve King, an outspoken crusader against illegal immigration, will not serve as chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration even though he held the ranking spot last year.
Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) announced Friday that Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) will take the top spot this year as the panel receives more attention under the new majority. The Iowa Republican will serve as the No. 2 member on the subcommittee.
Immigration advocates cheered the move, arguing that King was passed over because of his bombastic comments about immigrants.
“Steve King was dethroned because even the House Republican leadership must realize that comparing immigrants to livestock and suggesting we keep them out with an electric fence is offensive to Latino voters,” Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, said in a statement.
But a spokeswoman for the Judiciary panel said the switch was made because of a committee restructuring that shuffled several other Members. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), for example, will not serve as chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security even though he was its ranking member last year. Instead, the more senior Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) will take the helm of that subpanel. The Subcommittee on the Constitution, of which Sensenbrenner was previously the top Republican, will now be chaired by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.). Gohmert also has been considered a more controversial figure.
King’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.