WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve King isn’t serving on committees these days, but he still knows how to grab media attention.
The northwest Iowa Republican organized a fiery press conference Wednesday outside the U.S. Capitol alongside conservative media personalities Diamond and Silk, also known as Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson.
They were there to promote King’s “Diamond and Silk Act,” legislation that he says would redirect federal funding from so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions to federal programs assisting the nation’s homeless and veterans.
“Why are we borrowing money from China in order to fund the living standards of illegal aliens in America and why are we not taking care of our own American citizens, especially our veterans?” King asked.
King has long been a provocative opponent of illegal immigrationin general, and he is particularly critical of jurisdictions he feels don’t cooperate enough with federal immigration enforcement. The criteria for what constitutes a “sanctuary” city or state can be slippery, however, and some local officials say being enlisted as federal immigration enforcers alienates their officers from immigrant communities and makes it harder to combat crime.
But King said it’s important to hold those jurisdictions accountable.
To be clear, his bill is unlikely to go anywhere. In the House, after all, King’s party is in the minority.
And King himself was formally rebuked by the House earlier this year — and removed from committees — over statements he made to the New York Times about white supremacy.
King has insisted that his words were misrepresented by the paper, but one indication that he remains on the outs with fellow Republicans came just this week. He wasn’t among the party officials who traveled on Air Force One when President Donald Trump visited Iowa on Tuesday.
It didn’t take long for Wednesday’s press conference to devolve into testy exchanges between those behind the lectern and assembled reporters.
Asked about his removal from committees, King reiterated that he had been misquoted. Then he said he didn’t want to answer any more off-topic questions.
“Why were you barred from Air Force One?” one reporter asked.
“That’s not on topic,” King responded. “Couldn’t you hear me? I can’t hear you either, then.”
Diamond and Silk, meanwhile, talked at length about the problem of homelessness in San Francisco, using language that was, well, colorful.
“Defecating on the streets, out of their minds, shooting up on the streets,” Diamond said.
“With our tax dollars,” Silk interjected.
“Listen, what they need is help. What the city needs is help,” Diamond said. “Listen, let me tell you something, when you go outside of your door and it looks like a full toilet … something is seriously wrong.”
Meanwhile, the noise from an F-35 military jet participating in an unrelated exercise threatened to drown out the press conference, and King moved to wrap it up.
“That’s it,” King said. “Thanks, everybody.”