WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer agreed that censuring Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King over remarks about “white supremacy” will likely open a Pandora’s Box of political tit-for-tat when it comes to what is considered offensive speech in the future, but the Democratic leader still wants to see King punished on the floor of the House.
Democratic New York Rep. Charlie Rangel was censured in December 2010 over an ethics violation, which included not paying his income taxes and misusing his office for campaign fundraising.
Following an interview with The New York Times last Thursday when King reportedly said, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
King later said in a statement after the release of the article, “I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I reject those labels and the evil ideology they define.”
He further defended himself on Twitter saying he was mischaracterized and taken out of context.
Democrats called on Republican leadership to remove King from his committee posts, which was done so Monday night after King met with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Republican Steering Committee gathered several hours later. (RELATED: Steve King Loses Committee Seats Over Remarks About ‘White Supremacy’)
Hoyer told reporters Tuesday he believes King’s behavior “far exceeds” anything Rangel had done.
“What King is doing and what others have done is to encourage the undermining of the basic principles of our country, which have not always been followed but which the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments tried to protect and have in many ways protected […] in my opinion that is a more dangerous phenomenon than anything,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer alluded to President Donald Trump when he explained the reason why Congress had not punished members, previously saying, “I think there’s been created in this country, somehow, that…some acceptance of the activities of some who would promote racism. They may have a constitutional right to say things but all of us as, whoever we are, have a responsibility to stand up and speak out against that kind of sentiment and racism and extremism and division in our country.”
“And I think the Republicans are very sensitive to what the president said and they don’t want to be perceived as that party and they’re right on that,” he said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy continued his own rebuke of King, telling reporters, “I’m a brand-new leader. I listened to what Steve said. I brought Steve in and met with him. I also did research on what Steve has said in the past. I believe this party is the party of Lincoln. I was raised in a family of Democrats and I chose to be a Republican. Based upon the belief of how this party was created. This country has created that all men and women are created equal. There is no room for white supremacy. That’s why I took a strong action.”
The Republican National Committee (RNC) on Monday night, in light of the King condemnation, called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take action against her own caucus members who have associated themselves Louis Farrakhan, who has made antisemitic statements.
When asked by The Daily Caller if he felt comfortable establishing a precedent of punishing members on the House floor over offensive speech going forward he responded, “There is no room for white supremacy.”
“There is a role for membership inside your parties—that if you allow that type of activity to go forward, you’re complacent. If you allow people to speak about Nazism and call people on that—if you talk about what I’ve watched some of these new members say, but I listen to a speaker said she’s not into censorship.”
He added, ”She doesn’t believe that she should say something about it and that is wrong. I hope the American public sees the difference between a Republican Party and what they believe in and a Democrat Party and what they’re allowing to tolerate.”
A censure is a formal majority vote in the House on a resolution that disapproves of a member’s conduct, and usually requires that member to stand in the well of the House chamber and receive a verbal rebuke and reading of the resolution by the speaker.
Should King be censured, he would be the 24th time a member of Congress stood in the well to receive such a rebuke for various forms of misconduct which includes, according to Congressional Research Services, “insulting or other unparliamentary language on the floor or assaults on other Members, as well as, more recently, financial improprieties.”
Kerry Picket is a host on SiriusXM Patriot 125