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Rep. Steve King is campaigning to have his committee assignments reinstated after losing them five months ago over comments in support of white supremacy and white nationalism, and he has the support of a small group of House Republicans gathering signatures on his behalf, Politico reported Monday.
According to Politico, hard-line conservatives led by Rep. Ralph Norman are working to put forward a draft petition that would force their party to consider reinstating King, who was in January taken off the House Judiciary Committee and the House Agriculture Committee. The group needs the signatures of 25 lawmakers to raise the cause with the Republican Steering Committee, and according to Politico, it is unlikely to get them.
King has not tempered his rhetoric since being so widely and publicly condemned by his own party. Last week, he said at a town hall that “presum[ing] that every culture is equal…. devalu[es] the contributions of the…founding fathers.” He insisted, as he had before, that his comments were not racist because they were “about culture,” not race.
The list of his past offensive comments and actions is long, and it includes joking about people in more conservative states killing those in more liberal states in a civil war; calling white people the “subgroup of people” who have contributed the most to the world; tweeting that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies;” blaming immigrants for ISIS and Ebola; and blaming abortion for killing “millions” of white babies.
He finally appeared to have crossed a line in January, when he explicitly defended white supremacy and white nationalism in an interview with the New York Times. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization-how did that language become offensive?” King said. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” Four days after the interview ran, Republicans stripped King of his committee assignments in a public rebuke that could endanger his next bid for reelection.
It appears King has felt only defiance and resentment since the incident, having repeatedly insisted that his words were misinterpreted. In February, King published a list on Twitter of 200 “pro-family leaders” signing on to a letter asking House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to “do the right thing” by apologizing to King and reinstating his committees. Last week, according to the Des Moines Register, he announced he was making progress in his drive to win back his committee seats from the “political lynch mob.” He added: “I’ve been Mr. Nice Guy about this all along and let the cooler heads take over, and now … pretty soon I’m going to start pushing.”