WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Steve King has been pulled from two House committees after the Iowa Republican said he wondered why the term “white supremacist” had become offensive.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, took King off the Agriculture and Judiciary committees — two influential outlets for a congressman from a rural district who has sought exposure as a leader in the movement to crack down on undocumented migrants.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said in a New York Times profile last week. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King was defiant, saying he would serve out his term. He insisted that he was misunderstood and his musing about why certain language had become offensive referred only to “Western civilization.”
The Republican leadership has universally denounced King, with some calling on him to quit. The Republican Jewish Coalition cut off King some time ago — he has a history of incendiary statements on race, and has met and encouraged far-right and anti-Semitic extremists in other countries. The RJC also condemned his latest comment.
McCarthy did not say whether his caucus would join bids being launched by Democrats to formally censure King.