House votes to reject white supremacy after outrage over Rep. Steve King comments

The House could have voted to censure or expel King instead.

January 15, 2019, 5:48 PM

The House of Representatives voted 424-1 on Tuesday to reject white supremacy after outrage over Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King questioning why using the term is considered offensive.

Just minutes before the "resolution of disapproval" passed, King took to the House floor to defend himself amid a fierce backlash over his remarks in an interview published last Thursday with the New York Times, in which he's quoted as saying, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization -- how did that language become offensive?”

In trying to explain his use of the term "white supremacist," King told his colleagues, "that ideology never shows up in my head. I don't know how it could possibly come out of my mouth." He said his comments were taken out of context -- that his question asking "how did that language become offensive" referred to the "Western civilization" part of the quote.

King read portions of the resolution rejecting "White nationalism," saying "I reject the ideology that's noted in here."

After he spoke, Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington State, said: "Steve King of Iowa has made a trade in saying and pushing fundamentally racist and unacceptable ideas."

Another Democrat, Rep. Barbara Lee of California, said: "These racist beliefs, they should not be espoused by anyone, let alone a United States congressman."

On Monday, GOP House leaders stripped him of all of his committee assignments.

The third-ranking House Democrat, Rep. James Clyburn, an African-American, had sponsored the resolution that states "the House rejects White nationalism and White supremacy as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States."

King voted in favor, saying he agreed with its overall sentiment.

The lone "no" vote came from Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush, an African-American, who tweeted: "It is not strong enough. We need to censure Steve King."

King has faced severe criticism from both sides of the aisle, including from Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, who earlier Tuesday said King "should find another line of work."

Earlier she tweeted, "These comments are abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse."

After the vote, King told ABC News that he's fine with people judging his controversial remarks based on what he said on the House floor, saying, "I believe I- said what's in my head and heart and I'm satisfied with my statement."

ABC News' Megan Hughes and John Parkinson contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events