U.S. House members took two important votes on December 28. First, 231 Democrats and 44 Republicans approved a motion to increase direct COVID-19 relief payments for millions of Americans from $600 to $2,000, as President Donald Trump had demanded last week. About an hour later, 322 representatives voted to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act. Iowa’s three Democratic representatives (Abby Finkenauer, Dave Loebsack, and Cindy Axne) were part of both majority votes.
Outgoing U.S. Representative Steve King was not present for either vote. Since the November election, he has missed most of the House floor action.
King’s attendance in the House chamber became sporadic following his loss to Randy Feenstra in the Republican primary to represent Iowa’s fourth district. He missed many roll call votes in late June and early July. However, he showed up for work on several days in late July, voting against the defense authorization bill, another appropriations bill, and Democratic-backed legislation on child care access.
The House took only four floor votes during the month of August. King missed them all.
He was occasionally present in September, voting against a bill authorizing certain anti-discrimination lawsuits and for a bipartisan effort to ban imports from China of goods produced by forced labor.
King’s most newsworthy vote during his final months in Congress occurred in early October, when he was one of only 18 House members to oppose a resolution “Condemning QAnon and rejecting the conspiracy theories it promotes.”
(A depressing number of influential Iowa Republicans have embraced conspiracy theories in recent years.)
King has participated in only a few of the 35 House floor votes taken since the general election.
He was present for some of the floor business on November 18 and 19, voting against a resolution linked to an apprenticeships bill and for a procedural motion related to the defense authorization bill. However, King wasn’t around when the chamber approved that huge military spending bill on December 8.
The last roll calls showing votes from King occurred on December 9 and 10. On those days, he opposed a spending resolution to keep the federal government open. While he supported an uncontroversial bill on energy conservation standards for ceiling fans, he otherwise stayed true to his anti-environmental leanings. King was among only six House members who voted against a bill designed to prohibit unauthorized drones from interfering with fighting wildfires. The same day, he opposed a bill seeking to ban “large mesh drift gillnets that indiscriminately kill or severely injure many endangered, protected marine species.” More than 50 House Republicans had joined Democrats in support of that measure.
On his way out the door, King filed an ethics complaint against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He asserts that he and his constituents were denied equal representation when McCarthy stripped King of his committee assignments in early 2019 “without even the feigned consideration of due process.” I enclose that document below, but don’t feel obligated to read it. The House Ethics Committee surely won’t give the matter serious consideration.
If King cared about adequately representing his constituents, he could have been a more regular presence on the House floor lately. Although Finkenauer lost her re-election bid in IA-01, she didn’t skip out on her last two months of work in Congress. Axne didn’t miss any recent vote, and Loebsack was consistently on site as well, even though he’s retiring from IA-02.
News release from Representative Steve King, December 22:
King Submits Complaint to the House Ethics Committee to Request an Investigation into Kevin McCarthy’s Unprecedented Wrongdoing
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Steve King submitted a complaint to the House Ethics Committee, requesting an investigation into the overtly concerted effort to wrongly appropriate the authorities vested in the United States House of Representatives to deprive the Congressman and the constituents of the Fourth Congressional District of Iowa of equal representation in the House. Congressman King did not violate U.S. law, the Code of Official Conduct or congressional precedent, yet was removed from his committee assignments without even the feigned consideration of due process.
Congressman King’s letter to the Ethics Committee states in part as follows: “Shortly before the release of the January 2019 New York Times hit piece on me, which was instantaneously used to justify the actions taken by the Republican Steering Committee, under the leadership of Minority Leader McCarthy, I was given a heads up by a trusted friend and professional connection that, having failed to defeat me in the recently passed November 2018 general election, my opponents were ready to take another shot, even before the new Congress assembled and nearly two years in advance of the 2020 election cycle”.
The Constitution does not allow the people’s House to be used as a cover for party machines and bosses. Using power and position to manufacture and perpetrate dishonest political narratives, complete with distortions and outright lies camouflaged as facts under the cover of official congressional business, is a gross and repugnant violation of the American people who are the very constituent parts of this government.
For these reasons, I have requested that after the House Committee on Ethics thoroughly investigates and makes its recommendations, it proceeds to make all appropriate referrals to the Department of Justice for further investigation, as appropriate.