Republican rebuked over race remarks

US Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa.Image copyright

US Republican Steve King has been stripped of his congressional committee seats over comments he made about white supremacy.

Republican leaders in the US House of Representatives voted to remove the Iowa congressman from the Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business panels.

Mr King sparked furore for questioning why terms like “white supremacy” are controversial.

But he says his comments have been mischaracterised.

Both Democrats and his own party were quick to condemn Mr King for the remarks, made in a New York Times interview last week.

“We will not be seating Steve King on any committees in the 116th Congress,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after members of the Republican Steering Committee unanimously voted to remove Mr King on Monday night.

Mr King called the move to remove him from his House assignments a “political decision that ignores the truth”.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell became the latest Republican to speak out against Mr King on Monday, saying he has “no tolerance for such positions”.

“Rep King’s statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position. If he doesn’t understand why ‘white supremacy’ is offensive, he should find another line of work,” Senator McConnell said in a statement.

In a speech from the House floor on Friday, Mr King said he regretted “the heartburn that has poured forth” as a result of his interview.

“I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define.”

Republicans have faced mounting pressure to punish Mr King as Democrats prepare to file resolutions to censure Mr King over his comments.

In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Republican Senator Tim Scott, who is African-American, criticised both Mr King and the party’s response.

“Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism – it is because of our silence when things like this are said,” he wrote.

Mr King, who has served for 16 years, reclaimed his seat in November narrowly, with just three percentage points separating him from his Democratic challenger.