Rep. Steve King said he and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy agreed he should be able to sit on committees, a privilege King was stripped of when he made racist comments in early 2019, but some top Republicans are not open to the idea.
The Sioux City Journal reported that the Iowa Republican told a forum on Monday that there was a procedure in place for him to regain his panel posts.
“On April 20, Kevin McCarthy and I reached an agreement that he would advocate to the Steering Committee to put all of my committees back, all of my seniority,” King said, according to the newspaper. “When Congress comes back into session, when the Steering Committee can (inaudible) together, I have Kevin McCarthy’s word that that will be my time for exoneration.”
McCarthy noted there is a potential path for King to rejoin committees in the House; however, powerful Republicans on that steering committee have expressed their strong opposition to the possibility.
“Congressman King’s past comments cannot be exonerated," a McCarthy spokesperson said in a statement to Roll Call. "Committee assignments are determined by the steering committee and he will have the opportunity to make his case."
Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming — the third-highest ranking Republican in the House and who has called on King to resign more than once — does not want King to gain back his committee assignments.
“No, she does not,” a spokesperson for Cheney said when asked if she supported the idea of King regaining his committee slots.
Steve Stivers, a member of the Republican Steering Committee, gave $2,000 to King’s primary opponent Randy Feenstra on Dec. 31, 2019. The Ohio Republican, who previously chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee, tweeted his opposition to King potentially regaining his committee duties.
Representatives for McCarthy did not immediately respond to questions about the purported agreement. Nor did King’s office. Nor did the office of the No. 2 House Republican, Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called for King to resign after he gave an interview to The New York Times in which he questioned whether the term white supremacist was offensive.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King told the Times in the article that eventually led to him to losing his committee assignments. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
After the Times' story ran, Cheney said King “should find another line of work.” Months later, when it was reported by The Des Moines Register that King said humanity might not exist without rape and incest, Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, said King’s constituents “deserve better.”