After Career Full of Racist Remarks, GOP Finally Gets Around to Punishing Rep. Steve King

Progressives on Tuesday expressed relief that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was booted from his House committee assignments following his latest racist comments, but also noted that the GOP’s decision to penalize King is long overdue, following nearly two decades of openly bigoted remarks.

The move by Republicans—who have a long history of championing the racist and xenophobic policies King also supports—comes just days after a New York Times interview was published in which King asked why terms like “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” are considered offensive. As punishment, King will no longer be allowed to serve on the House Judiciary or Agriculture committees.

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) noted, “Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.”

Like other progressives, the New York Democrat expressed approval of King’s punishment, writing on Twitter that his removal from the committees will have far-reaching consequences for his career in the current Congress, and that his constituents will likely take note.

“King’s district should start working to replace him in 2020,” suggested Ocasio-Cortez. “Regardless of party, it’s not good for a district if their representative has such reprehensible views that they aren’t allowed to touch legislation with a 10 foot pole.”
Republican leaders also spoke out against King, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggesting the congressman find “another line of work.” But with King’s long history of open racism, some critics questioned why the GOP chose the present moment to finally distance itself from him.

Just months ago, King expressed similar sentiments to the comments he made to the Times, saying on a local radio show that the term “white nationalist” is used “as a derogatory term and they imply you are a racist.” He also shared his concern over the white supremacist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, suggesting migrants to Western Europe are plotting to make white people a minority.