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Boehner Rips Steve King's "Hateful" Comments

Boehner Rips Steve King's "Hateful" Comments

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - July 25, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner further condemned his Iowa colleague Steve King on Thursday, admitting the congressman’s "deeply offensive and wrong" comments about the children of illegal immigrants complicate the challenge of immigration reform.

"I want to be clear: there's no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials," Boehner told reporters, insisting King’s comments do not reflect GOP values. "We all need to do our work in a constructive, open, and respectful way. As I've said many times, we can disagree without being disagreeable."

Boehner, Republican congressional leaders, and a chorus of rank-and-file members have already publicly censured King this week after a Newsmax interview with the Iowa congressman surfaced. “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another hundred out there that they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” King said in the interview.

Boehner opened his weekly press conference with a sharpened rebuke of King, suggesting the controversy surrounding the congressman may be taking a toll on the Republican House as it is currently working on legislation that would provide some type of citizenship pathway to the children of illegal immigrants.

Boehner acknowledged, when asked, that King is making the task of getting immigration reform through the House more problematic. “It does make it more difficult,” he said. “But I'm going to continue to work with members who want to get to a solution as opposed to doing nothing at all.”

King has refused to back down from the comments, saying in an interview with CNN that he was simply telling the truth. “I've seen it with my eyes and watched the data and video that support what I say, and the longer this dialogue goes, the more the American people will understand what I'm saying is factually correct,” he said.

Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador, a Puerto Rican native who has worked on parts of the reform effort in the House, told reporters on Wednesday that King stands alone. “There’s nobody in the conference who would say such a thing and I hope that he, if he thought about it, he wouldn’t say such a thing again.”

Earlier this week, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the immigration subcommittee, who served with King on the judiciary committee, insisted "the number of people that have Steve King's precise ideology with respect to immigration is not a sufficient number to derail anything.”

But while GOP members have condemned King’s comments, 221 of them voted for his amendment last month that would continue the deportations of illegal immigrant children even though the president has halted them. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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