Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) claims he and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) have agreed to a process that will see King be reinstated to committee seats he lost last year as punishment for making remarks condoning white supremacy.
“On April 20, Kevin McCarthy and I reached an agreement that he would advocate to the steering committee to put all of my committees back, all of my seniority,” King said at a Monday debate with his Republican primary opponents, according to the Sioux City Journal.
“When Congress comes back into session, when the steering committee can (inaudible) together, I have Kevin McCarthy’s word that that will be my time for exoneration,” King said.
McCarthy’s office didn’t respond to a HuffPost request for comment Wednesday as to whether the House minority leader has struck such a deal with King.
McCarthy and GOP leadership in the House stripped King of all his committee assignments last year in response to comments King made to The New York Times.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King told the Times during a January interview about immigration. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
King — a white supremacist with a long history of associating with fascist figures in the U.S. and overseas — has since claimed the Times misquoted him, even though he made almost identical comments to an Iowa TV station months earlier.
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), a member of the GOP steering committee in the House, tweeted Wednesday that he won’t allow for King’s political comeback.
“Rep. Steve King claims he will get his committees back next year,” Stivers tweeted. “As long as I am a member of the Republican Steering Committee, I will not allow hate & bigotry to influence the legislation passed by Congress. He will not be serving on any committee.”
King hasn’t exactly been a pariah in conservative circles since he made his comments to the Times. As HuffPost reported, he was warmly received at a private GOP fundraiser where President Donald Trump was speaking last summer in Iowa.
And in March of this year, King was invited to speak on a panel at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
King, who’s served in the House for nine terms, is facing one of the toughest primary battles of his long congressional career. Polls show Republican Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra gaining on King ahead of the June 2 election. Feenstra has also raised significantly more campaign cash than King.
After a series of stories from HuffPost exposing King’s history of white supremacy in 2018, King narrowly won reelection in his district, one of the most conservative in the country. He beat Democratic opponent J.D. Scholten by only three points.
If he wins in the primary next month, he’ll face Scholten again in the general election this fall.