Last week, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), whose record on matters of race and immigration have made him a notorious figure in modern American politics, shared a line with the New York Times that was new, even for the far-right Iowan.
"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization – how did that language become offensive?" the eight-term Republican congressman said. "Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"
Republicans wasted little time in denouncing King's comments, and on Sunday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told CBS News's "Face the Nation" that GOP lawmakers would take some kind of "action" in response to the controversy.
Last night, the party's plan started to come into focus.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Monday that the GOP had voted unanimously to remove Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, from all committees amid the rising uproar over his recent comments about white nationalism.
"We will not be seating Steve King on any committees in the 116th Congress. It was a unanimous decision..." McCarthy told reporters. "In light of the comments -- these are not the first time we have heard these comments. That is not the party of Lincoln, and it is definitely not America. All people are created equal in America, and we want to take a very strong stance about that."
Asked whether he would support a campaign challenge to King, McCarthy said that decision was up to the voters -- but "I think we spoke very loud and clear that we will not tolerate this type of language in the Republican Party."
This was probably the first step, not the last. The House is also expected to vote this week on a resolution formally condemning King for his comments.
The Iowa Republican, not surprisingly, is outraged, and has accused his own party's leaders of launching an "unprecedented assault" on his free-speech rights. (It's an unpersuasive case: no one has a First Amendment right to a congressional committee assignment.)
But what stood out for me is Kevin McCarthy's boast that GOP officials have made clear that they "will not tolerate this type of language in the Republican Party." Haven't they spent several years proving the opposite?