(Bloomberg) -- Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, on Sunday promised “action” following the latest race-related remarks by Representative Steve King.
“Action will be taken,” McCarthy said Sunday of the Republican on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I’m having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party."
In an interview published Thursday in the New York Times, King, who has represented a district in northwest Iowa since 2003, said he wondered how white supremacy had “become offensive.” The top three Republicans in the House and other lawmakers from the party condemned the remarks. King, who has long history of statements that have been criticized as racist, later released a statement labeling white supremacy an “evil ideology.”
McCarthy, who said the two would meet Monday, didn’t outline specific measures he planned to take but suggested that “a number of things” would become public. The Congressional Black Caucus, a group of lawmakers currently composed entirely of Democrats, has called for King to be stripped of his committee assignments.
McCarthy said the language used by King “has no place in America” and added that he wouldn’t allow such words to continue “to stand and have any role with us.”
Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, also stopped short of calling for specific punishments, and countered on ABC’s “This Week” that Democrats hadn’t policed bigotry in their own ranks -- especially Antisemitism.
“I don’t see Democrats condemning Democrats on their side who are doing this kind of thing and using this kind of language,” he said, without offering a specific example.
Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina slammed GOP “silence” about comments such as King’s in a Washington Post opinion piece on Friday, which Scalise recommended that King read. Scott, the Senate’s only current black Republican, wrote that it enables those who want to label the party’s members as racist, and imperils an agenda based on “spreading opportunity.”
“When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole,” Scott wrote, calling King’s views separate from conservatism “that should be ridiculed at every turn.”
The Republican Party has struggled in recent decades to attract or retain minority voters amid accusations of tolerating racists in its rank. President Donald Trump was roundly criticized -- including by Scott and other Republicans -- for his failure to condemn white supremacists following a violent 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one counter-protester dead.
Republican House candidates attracted just 9 percent of black voters in the 2018 midterm races, according to the Pew Research Center.
GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said King, who was co-chairman of his 2016 presidential campaign, “needs to stop it.”
“What Steve King said was stupid,” Cruz said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “It was stupid, it was hurtful, it was wrong."
Still, when asked whether he would support King in the future, Cruz said only he would “urge everyone to stand for principles that matter.”
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