On Thursday, the Democratic leadership in the House brought a resolution to a vote that condemned anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination—and then threw in all other forms of bigotry against minorities just to make sure it was clear where they stood on the issue: against. One Democratic aide called the motion a “kitchen-sink resolution” because of all the anti–bad stuff that was jammed in there. The symbolic bill sailed through the House (whew!) by a 407–23 vote and still managed to leave Democrats on all sides peeved. Somehow 23 members of Congress voted against an anti-bigotry resolution, all of whom were Republicans, the vast majority of whom represent districts well below the Mason-Dixon line. Presumably the talking point in those districts will be that Congress condemning hate and bigotry is a form of government overreach.
Whether the affair ultimately meant anything at all is debatable, except for a single vote by a single member of Congress: Rep. Steve King of Iowa. The Republican congressman has a long history of being, well, a white nationalist bigot himself, which at long last prompted the GOP to strip King of his committee assignments in January. Voting for bigotry with his colleagues might not sit well with the GOP leadership and could lead to further punishment. But voting against bigotry, as you can imagine, might do serious damage to the Steve King, white supremacist brand. Clearly, the vote put Rep. King in a tough spot, politically. A portion of the resolution, after all, was devoted to denouncing white supremacy, including the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville and the deadly church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. “White supremacists in the United States have exploited and continue to exploit bigotry and weaponize hate for political gain, targeting traditionally persecuted peoples, including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and others with verbal attacks, incitement, and violence,” the resolution reads.
So did King vote for or against bigotry? He voted “present.” The only member of Congress to do so. Good hedge.
Steve King on bigotry—here for it.