Congressman Steve King took to the House floor Thursday night to lament the loss of his committee assignments, accusing Republican leadership of “stifling” his freedom of speech.
King, representing Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, has insisted he was misquoted in a Jan. 10 New York Times article that led House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to introduce a resolution condemning his remarks.
King was quoted as asking the reporter: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
As a result, King was removed from the agriculture, judiciary and small business committees on which he served.
” … my reward for defending western civilization,” King said Thursday night, “is a pejorative decision that’s unprecedented in the history of the United States Congress to stifle my freedom of speech and to limit, to the extent that they could, my ability to be re-elected going into the future.”
In his 30-minute speech, King referenced a “fact check document” compiled in March by his staff, complete with charts highlighting the 276 times he was quoted in an eight-year period using the phrase “western civilization.” The document asserts King never was quoted using any iteration of the terms “white supremacist” or “white nationalism” until the New York Times article.
The data, King has said, was based on a Lexis-Nexis search of his quotes dating back to 2000.
King takes issue with the reporter’s punctuation in the article, asserting that “one misplaced hyphen … gave birth to a meritless controversy.”
According to the March press release, the quote should have read: “White Nationalist, White Supremacist,— Western Civilization, how did THAT language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
Since his removal from House committees, some in the Republican establishment have distanced themselves from King in his re-election race.
He was notably absent from Sen. Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride in June, did not fly to Iowa with President Donald Trump on his latest trip, and has lagged significantly in fundraising compared to his top primary challenger.
On Thursday, Ernst told Iowa reporters she would not endorse King or any other candidate in the 4th District primary.
Because he no longer serves on any committees, King said on the House floor his constituents were “denied” their “right to full-throated representation … because of the arbitrary and capricious and false conclusion that has been brought by Kevin McCarthy.”
In concluding his remarks, King described the fallout from the article as “a political lynch mob.”
“It’s time to cut the rope and get me back in a full force of where my constituents deserve, to give them the fullest representation that’s there.”
By Elizabeth Meyer