On Monday evening, four days after he spoke to The New York Times about his confusion over when phrases like "white supremacist" became offensive, Rep. Steve King's House committee seats were stripped. Specifically, he lost his seat on the Agriculture Committee and on the Judiciary Committees, though he still will be allowed to attend party meetings, per The New York Times. Notably, this isn't the first time King's comments have come under intense fire.
Per Fox News, King has since released a statement that argues his comments were "completely mischaracterized." The statement also calls House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's decision to strip him of his committee seats "a political decision that ignores the truth." Furthermore, King added that he rejects both “white nationalism and white supremacy" and the "evil ideology they define," the Times noted.
In turn, McCarthy released his own statement, Fox reports, in which he said, "We will not tolerate this type of language in the Republican Party ... or in the Democratic Party as well. I watched what Steve King said and we took action."
The decision to strip King of his committee seats came after a four-day firestorm following his comments on Thursday, in which he said in part, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
Following his comments, The New York Times reported that King released his first statement on the matter, in which he referenced himself as a "nationalist" who defends "western civilization." King added in his statement, “I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I reject those labels and the evil ideology they define."
In a later statement, McCarthy said via ABC News, "[King's comments] call into question whether he will treat all Americans equally, without regard for race and ethnicity ... House Republicans are clear: We are all in this together, as fellow citizens equal before God and the law."
Regardless, his words on white supremacy were swiftly met with widespread condemnation on both sides of the partisan aisle. In a formal statement on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor, via Fox, "There is no place in the Republican Party, the Congress or the country for an ideology of racial supremacy of any kind."
McConnell went on, “I have no tolerance for such positions and those who espouse these views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. Rep. King's statements are unwelcome and unworthy of his elected position."
Other GOP leaders were quick to denounce King's quote, as well. Sen. Mitt Romney called on King to resign, according to The Hill, telling a group of reporters, "Steve King’s comments are reprehensible... [he] ought to resign and move on and let someone else who represents American values take his seat."
President Trump has not yet acknowledged King's words, or his subsequent removal from committee seats.
King's comments on white supremacy might just have lasting repercussions within Congress that far outreach his own political career: according to ABC News, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), has said he plans to introduce a censure resolution to the House, which will serve to acknowledge that Congress has no room for "repugnant and racist behavior."