Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has filed legislation that would block the U.S. Treasury Department from putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. King is perhaps best-known in the nation's capital for his anti-immigration rhetoric and his hostility to undocumented immigrants. But this takes his mean-spirited forays into racial politics in a new direction.
Many Americans celebrated in April when the Treasury Department announced that abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. One notoriously right-wing congressman, however, is so unhappy about the change that he's fighting to block it.
The Huffington Post's report added that King is sponsoring an amendment that would prohibit the Treasury from making any changes to American money and nullify the department's plans to honor Tubman.
Politico reported that the Iowa Republican said it's "racist" and "sexist" to say a woman or person of color should be added to U.S. currency. "Here's what's really happening: This is liberal activism on the part of the president that's trying to identify people by categories, and he's divided us on the lines of groups," King said, adding, "This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president, and mine's unifying. It says just don't change anything."
The same article went on to note that King defended his amendment as crucial. "President Obama's on his way out the door," he said. "He's going to do everything he can think of to upset this society and this civilization."
The Iowan didn't specify which "civilization" he was referring to.
Every now and then, we're confronted with a story that disgusts but doesn't surprise. For Steve King, of all people, to say it's "racist" to honor a woman best known for leading slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad is consistent with everything we know about the congressman, but that doesn't make his proposal any less ridiculous.
As it turns out, however, the fight over King's measure is over before it starts. Last night, the Rules Committee decided not to allow the Iowan's amendment to reach the floor as part of the debate over funding the Treasury Department.
Postscript: Some may see Steve King as a fringe figure with no real relevance on Capitol Hill, but let's not forget that just two years ago, House Republican leaders allowed King to shape the GOP's immigration policy.