Republican Steering panel votes not to seat Steve King on any committees

“We believe in swift action, because we do not believe in his words,” McCarthy says

Iowa Rep. Steve King has come under fire in recent days for racist comments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Republican Steering Committee unanimously decided Monday evening not to seat Iowa Rep. Steve King on any committees for the 116th Congress, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters.

Earlier in the day, McCarthy met with King and communicated his intention to recommend that action to the Steering Committee. After the panel met and agreed with McCarthy’s recommendation, the California Republican said he called King to inform him of Steering’s decision.

King will still be allowed to attend House Republican Conference meetings, McCarthy said.

King has faced widespread backlash in recent days for questioning, in a New York Times interview, why the terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” had become “offensive.”

“Leader McCarthy’s decision to remove me from committees is a political decision that ignores the truth,” King said in a statement Monday evening, adding that his Times quote “had been completely mischaracterized.”

The Iowa Republican had served on the Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business committees in the previous Congress. The Republican Steering Committee hadn’t yet made its recommendations for committee assignments for the 116th Congress so Monday’s decision was one to not to seat him rather to strip him of his assignments.

“We believe in swift action, because we do not believe in his words,” McCarthy said.

“We’re very proud of the fact that the Republican Party is the part of Lincoln. The Republican Party believes wholeheartedly in the Constitution that all men and women are created equal, and we will stand up for that anytime we see somebody say something different,” he added. 

McCarthy said he would have to read the disapproval resolution Democrats are planning to hold a vote on but suggested he would be willing to vote for it if he agreed with the language.

“I do not agree with his remarks, and I would support something saying I did not agree with his remarks,” McCarthy said. “But I think the action that the Steering Committee [took] is appropriate.”

Asked whether King should resign from Congress, McCarthy said, “The voters of his district make those decisions.”

“I don’t think he agreed with me,” the minority leader said of King. “But I talked to him, I let him make his case. I looked at past comments and past research of the things that have been said and I do think that is becoming of an individual to serve on committees.”

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

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