Kevin McCarthy promises ‘action’ after latest racist remarks by Steve King

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) at a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in June. Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, promised “action” after King's latest remarks.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, promised “action” after the latest racist remarks by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

“Action will be taken,” McCarthy said Sunday of King on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I’m having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party.”

In an interview published Thursday in the New York Times, King, who has represented a district in northwest Iowa since 2003, said he wondered how white supremacy had “become offensive.” The top three Republicans in the House and other lawmakers from the party condemned the remarks. King, who has a long history of statements that have been criticized as racist, later released a statement labeling white supremacy an “evil ideology.”

McCarthy, who said the two would meet Monday, didn’t say specifically what he would do about King but suggested that “a number of things” would become public. The Congressional Black Caucus, a group of lawmakers currently composed entirely of Democrats, has called for King to be stripped of his committee assignments.


McCarthy said the language used by King “has no place in America.” He said he wouldn’t allow such words to continue “to stand and have any role with us.”

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, right, speaks to the media on Jan. 9.
(Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) the No. 2 House Republican, also stopped short of calling for specific punishments, and countered on ABC’s “This Week” that Democrats hadn’t policed bigotry in their own ranks –– especially anti-Semitism.

“I don’t see Democrats condemning Democrats on their side who are doing this kind of thing and using this kind of language,” he said, without offering a specific example.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) criticized GOP “silence” about comments like King’s in a Washington Post opinion piece Friday, which Scalise recommended that King read. Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican, wrote that silence enables those who want to label the party’s members as racist, and imperils an agenda based on “spreading opportunity.”

“When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole,” Scott wrote, calling King’s views separate from conservatism “that should be ridiculed at every turn.”

The Republican Party has struggled in recent decades to attract or retain minority voters. President Trump was roundly criticized –– including by Scott and other Republicans –– for not condemning white supremacists after a violent 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Va., in which a counterprotester was killed.

Republican House candidates attracted just 9% of black voters in the 2018 midterm races, according to the Pew Research Center.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said King, who was co-chairman of Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, “needs to stop it.”

“What Steve King said was stupid,” Cruz said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “It was stupid, it was hurtful, it was wrong.”