Iowa Congressman Steve King read from what he described as a “transcript” of a call with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during a televised debate in an effort to assure voters he will be assigned to committees next year if reelected to Congress.
Dave Price, political director and anchor at WHO-TV in Des Moines, during a 4th District debate posted online Tuesday afternoon, asked King to clarify a disputed claim he made earlier in the month about McCarthy and his willingness to advocate in favor of reinstating King’s committee assignments. King was not assigned to any committees in 2019 or 2020 in the wake of a New York Times article in which he questioned why “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” were offensive terms.
“What’s going on here? Is this lost in translation or is somebody not being honest?” Price asked. “What’s the deal?”
In response, King said he brought with him a transcript of the April 19 phone call with McCarthy.
“Here’s the operative part, I said to him, and I quote, ‘This is my understanding, and so that we understand each other I’ll ask you this way,’ quote: ‘Will you go to the steering committee and advocate on my behalf to restore me to all my committees?’ Close quote. McCarthy’s answer directly was ‘yes.’ One word, real clear. Not only that, my wife was listening in on that conversation as well.
“And so if this doesn’t happen, it’s not on me,” King continued. “Just like not being on committees, it’s not on me. This is on the people that made those decisions.”
According to CNN, McCarthy has denied making King any promises related to the Republican Steering Committee and his House committee assignments.
Among other duties, the steering committee, made up of 30 House Republicans, recommends which members serve on which committees. Prior to his removal, King served on the agriculture, judiciary and small business committees.
“Congressman King’s comments cannot be exonerated and I never said that,” McCarthy said during a May 15 press conference when asked if he told King he would advocate to the steering committee to have his committee assignments reinstated.
Rep. Steve Stivers, a member of the steering committee, said he “will not allow hate and bigotry to influence legislation passed by Congress. He will not be serving on any committee.”
King, who faces four challengers in the 4th District Republican primary, first brought up his conversation with McCarthy May 11 during a candidate forum in Spencer, Iowa.
” … when Congress goes back into session and the steering committee can be brought together,” King said, “I have Kevin McCarthy’s word that then that will be my time for exoneration.”
In a statement May 13 to Starting Line, a spokesperson for McCarthy said, “Congressman King’s past comments cannot be exonerated.”
“Committee assignments are determined by the steering committee,” the spokesperson said, “and he will have the opportunity to make his case.”
By Elizabeth Meyer
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