Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, told Iowa radio host Simon Conway last week that guns were not to blame for the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub this month because if every person at the club had been carrying a gun, nobody would have been shot.
The club was protected by an armed police officer who exchanged fire with the assailant, but state law prohibits people from carrying guns in establishments like nightclubs that dispense alcoholic beverages. King, however, said that the alcohol-drinking club-goers should have all been armed.
“I look at this and I think, we have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms and the problem in Orlando at the Pulse was not a problem of the gun laws,” King said, criticizing efforts in Congress to bolster gun regulations after the shooting. “I mean, he followed all of them, the FBI interrogated him at least three times, they decided that he wasn’t enough of a risk. He wouldn’t have been on a list anyway. So anything that they might propose to do would not have prevented the tragedy, the horrific, gruesome tragedy in Orlando, and yet they would trample on the very rights that are needed for people to protect themselves.”
He continued, “If everybody in that nightclub, at the Pulse, had been armed, if everybody had a gun, I would say this: I don’t think anybody would have gotten shot. [In the] first place, I don’t think the perpetrator walks in there. If he does walk in there, then we may have, but there would’ve been a lot fewer than the 102.”
Steve King, the Iowa GOP congressman who once said that DREAM Act beneficiaries are mostly drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” said yesterday that he expects to be “deeply engaged” in immigration policy if Donald Trump is to become president, boasting that a “good amount” of the immigration policies on Trump’s website are “a copy-and-paste from things that I’ve done.”
King told Jeff Angelo, who was guest-hosting the Iowa talk radio program “Mickelson in the Morning,” that his legislative priorities in the next Congress would depend on who is elected president.
“If it’s Hillary, I’ll be playing a lot of defense because she’ll be pouring an agenda at us,” he said. “And if it’s Trump, then we’ve got an opportunity to move another direction. So, let’s just say, the agenda is going to be continue to kill off bad ideas. And if it’s Trump it will be sort his ideas, but I expect to be deeply engaged in the immigration legislation that would just certainly come and in shaping a fence, a wall and a fence on the southern border. A good amount of what’s on his website is a copy-and-paste from things that I’ve done, and we’ll get along on the immigration, I think, without any problem.”
King also said that he would “push hard for a balanced budget amendment” because if an amendment isn’t ratified, “the movement to do a constitutional convention for that purpose is just going to push one on us anyway.”
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, blasted the Obama administration on Saturday for a new directive on transgender equality in public schools, joking that the administration won’t be satisfied until all students are “transgendered [sic] vegans” and lamenting a “downhill” descent in the United States that includes the Supreme Court rulings recognizing women’s right to access birth control.
King discussed the Obama administration letter to school districts in the “Caffeinated Thoughts Radio” podcast on Saturday, saying that “pranksters” in their last week of high school are probably “lined up right now” to take advantage of transgender rights to get into girls’ bathrooms.
Think of this: This is the last week of school for a lot of high school seniors. Some of these boys, especially, are a little rowdy when they’ve got their grades already in the bank and are just kind of waiting to go down and accept their diploma. … But, think of this, all over America, they’ve got to be lined up right now, the pranksters, going, ‘I’m going to go into the girls’ room,’ ‘I’m going,’ ‘I dare you,’ ‘Well, the two of us will go,’ ‘The three of us will go.’ There’s a line-up in some school right now and no school can discipline them because the federal government will come in with the Justice Department and jerk their No Child Left Behind funding.
He half-joked that the government would next announce that “‘We’re going to make you all vegans,’ transgendered [sic] vegans would satisfy them.”
“It’s the unhumorous humorous reality of how perverse our society has gotten under Barack Obama,” he added.
When asked if schools would resist the administration’s directive, King was pessimistic, saying that he had seen society “capitulate” to Supreme Court rulings on prayer in schools, abortion rights, and same-sex marriage, along with the court’s rulings in Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstaedt v. Baird, which established the right of married and unmarried people, respectively, to access birth control.
With all of these developments, King said, the U.S. has gone “downhill fast” as society has allowed the courts to “change the protocol of the civilization that goes back to Adam and Eve.”
Well, I was sitting [as] a freshman in high school when Murray vs. Curlett came down that ordered that there be no more prayer in the public schools. And I thought then, that was 1963, and I thought then, how are they going to stop us from praying in our schools? They could tape our mouths shut, that doesn’t do it. The only way they could stop us would be to empty the schools out. And in my mind’s eye, I can still see the images that were conjured up: two U.S. Army personnel standing there guarding the doors that were chained shut on our high school. … It was the image that came to mind, the only way to stop us from praying in public schools was to empty the schools out and guard them so we couldn’t sneak in and pray.
And, yet, what happened was, society capitulated to the command of the Supreme Court, and then we saw a watershed that went downhill: Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Griswold v. Connecticut, Eisenstadt, on and on and on ... but we went downhill fast. And then you saw, we were all part of the battle against what our Iowa Supreme Court did when they commanded that there be same-sex marriage in Iowa, and then we saw the Supreme Court order, just create a new command in the United States Constitution. So now we’ve got to submit to five members of the Supreme Court and one president and simply let them change the protocol of the civilization that goes back to Adam and Eve? And I’m going to say, society will capitulate because they didn’t fight on marriage.
Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a key endorser of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential run and a leading anti-immigration voice in the house, told an Iowa talk radio program yesterday that although he is not ready to endorse Donald Trump now that he is the presumptive GOP nominee, he is ready to thank Trump for “borrowing” his immigration policy and “help” the candidate solidify his stance on the issue.
King told Iowa radio host Jeff Angelo that he’s not ready to offer a direct endorsement because of the “insults” Trump has hurled at his adversaries: “I’m not a guy who holds a lot of grudges, but I have to be able to remember some things along the way.”
But he seemed ready to work with Trump on crafting a restrictive immigration policy:
I’ve said that we need to support the nominee that’s produced by the rules. I’ve never seen a nominee pour out so many insults on other people as Donald Trump has. This isn’t the day to highlight all of those and grind through all of that, but I’ll just say this, that I think Donald Trump is going to have to do a job of reaching out to conservatives and convincing. You’re a candidate, you’ve got to convince people to come in behind you. We had somewhere between 5 and 8 million conservatives who didn’t come out to vote when Mitt Romney was on the ballot, and he may well be president today if he had been able to mobilize those conservatives.
So I want to hear some things from Donald Trump on how it will be and what he will do. It’s been pretty hard to figure that out over the last few months. And I’m not going to say that I’m going to be a ‘Never Trump’ person, don’t expect that at all out of me. Expect me to say to Donald Trump: ‘Thanks a lot for borrowing my immigration policy, you get to keep it and I’ll help you with that, and let’s see what else we can do, if we can work together to strengthen this.’
And so I’d like to see it put together in a way that we can put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together where there’s a whole, coherent policy in the Trump campaign that can stand up and win an election, and something that is so firm that he stands on it and we stand on it and we get to a place where we can stand on it together.
Somehow, we think that King and Trump will be able to make up eventually. Before Trump and Cruz started locking heads, King praised Trump for raising the profile of anti-immigrant policies.
And who can forget when Trump traveled to Iowa to campaign for King in 2014, resulting in a press conference where Trump stood by as King warned of immigrants bringing in Ebola and beheadings and heaped praise on Trump for his "brain" and "character."
"I have this affinity to, I'll just say, get the opportunity to claim as friends a unique individual that has blazed his own trail time and time again," King said at the time, "one who never puts his finger in the wind, but puts his brain to it and his character to it and his work ethic to it and his instincts to it, and time after time, when the hand of Donald Trump reached out and touched something, it turned into something good for America."
Today, as thousands of people gathered in front of the Supreme Court to voice their support of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, a somewhat smaller crowd organized by Tea Party Patriots held forth against the DAPA/DACA actions and urged the Senate not to confirm President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
We counted about 20 people at the Tea Party Patriots event at 11 am, shortly before the event’s speeches were scheduled to begin:
The heavily outnumbered protesters carried signs saying “#NoHearingsNoVotes,” “#TheDecisionIsOurs,” “#LetThePeopleDecide” and “Let The People Have A Voice On The Future Of The Court,” the message that anti-Garland groups have settled on to make their quest to block hearings on a Supreme Court nomination sound like a populist rallying cry. The sign on a podium labeled Garland “Obama’s Rubber Stamp.”
News concerences sponsored by the Tea Party and FreedomWorks also featured Reps. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), as well as other speakers who unsuccessfully tried to lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and "America the Beautiful." An effort to lead a singalong of the national anthem backfired when the singer forgot the lyrics midway through, drawing jeers.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who has endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential run, said in an interview with Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon yesterday that the success of “anti-establishment candidates” like Cruz and Donald Trump in the Republican primary shows that Republican voters are channeling the spirit of the American Revolution.
King attributed the success of Cruz and Trump to frustration that Republican leaders in Congress “haven’t followed through on their promises” to repeal the Affordable Care Act, block executive actions on immigration, or call out the president “on his constitutional violations of all kinds.”
He explained that it all started with the Tea Party, which he described as a Christian conservative movement with an energy that “goes back to the pipes of the Revolutionary War” and that is now reflected by the majority of the Republican electorate.
We have watched this within the Tea Party, and they are full-spectrum, conservative Christian, constitutional conservatives for the most part — and they don’t exclude people who are conservatives that happen to be of another faith or religion at all, they’re very welcoming to all people that would join the cause — but that energy and fervor that goes back to that, let’s say goes back to the pipes of the revolutionary war, that’s something that motivates us, we’re rooted in our history, it’s a common historical experience that we have.
And they know that the Declaration and the Constitution were shaped then, and if we fail to adhere to those values, if this is the time to restore and refurbish the pillars of American exceptionalism, that if we fail, our Constitution will be lost. And that’s the 80 percent out there of the Republicans and that’s about the zero percent of the Democrats.
King also explained that he knew he could count on Cruz in 2013 when he held an all-day press conference in protest of the Gang of Eight immigration bill and “for 45 minutes, [Cruz] delivered chapter and verse of everything that I have fought for and believed in with regard to the immigration issue.”
He said that his respect for Cruz was further cemented when he learned that the Texas senator “was raised with the Bible and the Constitution at the kitchen table, side by side, indexed to each other” and that’s when “I knew that it’s in his bones.”
It isn’t exactly a surprise, then, that Rep. Steve King of Iowa, one of the most vocal anti-immigration advocates in Congress, seems fairly supportive of Trump’s plan despite having endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz for president.
Newsmax host Steve Malzberg asked King about Trump’s plan in an interview yesterday, and King said that while he was “torn between a couple of two fires” on the issue, he’d “like to see Donald Trump go a little further with this dialogue and see what we might be able to get done.”
King, who once insisted that most people eligible for the DREAM Act have “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” said that he suspected that “a good chunk” of remittances to Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America are “laundered drug money.”
The latest announcement in the Ted Cruz presidential campaign’s ongoing rollout of endorsements from right-wing leaders is a group of more than 50 “Catholic influencers” led by Robert George, the intellectual muscle for the Religious Right, and Ken Cuccinelli, former attorney general of Virginia and failed gubernatorial candidate. The campaign announced the endorsement of Robert George yesterday; some others on the list have also been announced previously.
Not surprisingly, the list of Catholics for Cruz is heavy on culture warriors who have been fighting to criminalize abortion and resist legal equality for LGBT people and same-sex couples. Although Cruz is not Catholic, he made a reference to the Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis, saying “we have an opportunity to protect the most vulnerable and safeguard the truth revealed through Scripture and the tradition of millennia.”
Courting Extremism is a weekly feature on conservative responses to the Supreme Court vacancy.
We are introducing a new series here on Right Wing Watch as the GOP’s obstructionism reaches a new low, with many Republican leaders now claiming that whomever President Obama nominates to the Supreme Court should receive absolutely no consideration from senators, despite their duties as outlined in the Constitution.
In response to the Supreme Court blockade, we will be putting together a weekly update on the Right’s response to the current Supreme Court vacancy.
5) Federalist Society Fine With A Perpetual Vacancy
Originally, Republicans insisted that they were simply upholding a recently-discovered tradition where the Senate refuses to consider Supreme Court nominees in election years.
At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Dean Reuter of the Federalist Society, a major right-wing legal group, commended the Senate GOP leadership for refusing to consider whomever Obama nominates to fill the vacancy. When asked if Republicans should continue to block hearings if the next president is a Democrat, Reuter said he is fine leaving the seat open indefinitely:
There’s no time limit in the Constitution. And there’s nothing magical about there being nine justices. The country started out with six justices, we’ve had as many as ten at some point in time. And as recently as 2010, when Justice Elena Kagan came on the Court, she had been solicitor general so she recused herself in over a third of the cases…I don’t see a sense of urgency.
Unless, of course, a Republican is elected president.
4) Ron Johnson Gives Away The Game
Apparently, the fictitious no-appointments-in-an-election-year tradition only applies to Democratic presidents, at least according to Sen. Ron Johnson.
The Wisconsin Republican said in a radio interview yesterday that “it’d be a different situation” if a GOP president was appointing a justice to the bench, saying that the Senate Republicans would show “more accommodation” to a Republican president.
Johnson might be interested in hearing from his voters: A recent poll found that 62 percent of Wisconsinites say the open Supreme Court seat should be filled this year, and 76 percent “think the Senate should at least see who gets put forward before making a decision on whether they should be confirmed.”
3) ‘We Are Setting A Precedent Here Today’
At least one Republican senator is honest enough to admit that the Republicans don’t have Senate history on their side.
Sen. Lindsey Graham told a Judiciary Committee meeting that the GOP is about to create a new precedent by refusing to even consider a nominee from President Obama, as the Huffington Post reports:
One of the Republican Party's most candid senators, Lindsey Graham (S.C.), admitted Thursday a stark fact that the rest of his colleagues have tried their best to avoid: that their blockade of any Supreme Court nominee by President Barack Obama is unprecedented.
And he insisted that he was going to go along with it, even though he predicted it would worsen relations between the parties and the functioning of the Senate.
"We are setting a precedent here today, Republicans are, that in the last year at least of a lame duck eight-year term -- I would say it’s going to be a four-year term -- that you’re not going to fill a vacancy of the Supreme Court based on what we’re doing here today," Graham said in an unusual session of the Judiciary Committee, where members debated not bills or judicial nominees, but Obama's right to carry out his constitutional powers in an election year.
"We're headed to changing the rules, probably in a permanent fashion," he said.
Nonetheless, Graham said that “he still supports Grassley's decision not to hold hearings for Obama's nominee.”
2) ‘It’s A Political Argument’
While Senate Republicans insist that they aren’t inserting partisanship into the Supreme Court fight and are simply following tradition, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said at CPAC that the fight is all about winning “a political clash.”
It seems that the GOP is not only ignoring the Constitution’s “advice and consent” requirement but also the heart of the Sixth Amendment.
In a taste of things to come, Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network took to the National Review to attack a possible Supreme Court nominee, Judge Jane Kelly, for having once worked as a defense attorney.
That’s right, Severino seemed to suggest that it is disqualifying that Kelly worked as a defense attorney because her past clients include people accused of vicious crimes.
Of course, everyone accused of a crime isn’t necessarily guilty, and according to the Sixth Amendment, “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial” and “to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”
Severino’s outrageous article is also an opportunity to point out that her group, the Judicial Crisis Network, was originally named the Judicial Confirmation Network when it was founded during the Bush administration for the purpose of advocating for the smooth confirmation of judges.
While Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has insisted that he is blocking a Supreme Court appointment because he’s abiding by a (nonexistent) tradition that the Senate doesn't confirm justices during an election year, King seemed to give away the game and admit that Senate Republicans are engaging in a political fight to stop Obama.
Video via Democracy Partners / Americans United for Change.
The Iowa Republican congressman said he would support Grassley’s Supreme Court blockade “as long as he’s blocking an Obama appointment.” King dismissed concerns about the Senate’s constitutional obligation to consider Supreme Court nominees and made it clear that the blockade is all about anti-Obama politics.
I’m going to defend Chuck Grassley and whatever he decides to do on this at least as far as — as long as he’s blocking an Obama appointment. And I say that because I’m on the Judiciary Committee in the House, we have a voice but we don't have a vote, that this argument about who should do the nomination and whether there should be the advice and consent of the Senate so that the president can make that appointment, this swings back around.
There will be all kinds of constitutional arguments that are made and they will say “process” and "tradition” and “constitution” and “precedent” are going to guide us all. And then they’ll make up those that support their argument and some of them who are making those arguments will be contradicting their previous arguments the last time these things came up, like Schumer, for example.
But in the end, we should understand that it’s a political argument and a political clash of this will be played out with higher and higher intensity moving forward until November. If Chuck Grassley and Republicans can hold off on a nomination or vote down a nomination until the election, then I think it will be clear that it’s not going to happen until the next president makes that appointment.
After shrugging off the Constitution’s “advice and consent” provision, King said he would only support judicial nominees “who believe and adhere to the principle that the Constitution means what it says and needs to be interpreted to mean what it was understood to mean at the time of ratification.” (That’s code for results-based rulings cheered by conservatives.)
King, an Iowa Republican, said that aside from the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, his main concern was that America is following in Europe’s footsteps in committing “cultural suicide,” with President Obama administering the suicide pills in the form of refugees and other immigrants.
“I see Europe,” he said, “it’s almost past tense, you can almost say they have committed cultural suicide. And Barack Obama has been feeding us the medication that will bring about cultural suicide in the United States. And we need a president who sees that whole picture and knows that it has to be restored and has an understanding of how to restore the American exceptionalism, constitutional underpinnings and the core of our faith.”
King added that he saw such a “transformation of Western Christendom” in recent visits to immigrant communities in Minneapolis and Dearborn, Michigan, which, he said, highlighted the “demographics” that he hoped a President Ted Cruz could reverse in America.
“By the way, I went up to Minnesota, to Little Mogadishu, to see what that’s like up there,” he said, “and I spent a weekend in Dearborn to see what, again, went to a couple of mosques in there to see the transformation of the United States. And I’ve gone into a number of the major cities in Europe and walked into those no-go zones and walked down through the Muslim neighborhoods and I see the transformation of Western Christendom, and it’s very troubling. And when you look at the demographics, we must do something to reverse this, and [Cruz] is the candidate that I believe [can do it].”
While chatting today with Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News, Rep. Steve King took issue with the claim that the mounting hostility to refugees is undermining American values. The Iowa Republican said that “the argument that ‘that’s not who we are’ is just one of the mantras that they put out, it’s not supported by logic or rationale.”
“Who we are? We should not be a suicidal nation,” King said. “My wife said this morning, ‘If you had 100 grapes and you knew that two of them were fatally poisonous, would you sit there and eat the grapes until one of them killed you? Or would you decide, I’m not going to take that bunch of grapes at all?’ That’s what we’re dealing with here with the Syrian refugees.”
King argued that the U.S. has already done its part to help refugees since “America has done more than any other country in the world has done for refugees and the soil right next door to Syria that are part of Iraq, is sanctified by the blood of our warriors, our patriots. They paid a greater price than any other country in the world and we have a right to protect our borders, and by the way, we have a right to protect our culture and our civilization. I am watching as Europe has committed, it’s almost conclusive now, that they are committing cultural suicide by pouring in millions of migrants who don’t share they’re values.”
He blamed the looming end of European civilization on abortion and contraception: “The mass migration is the end of their culture and civilization and they must know that but they deny it because they’ve denied the reality that if they don’t have their babies, if they abort their babies and decide by contraceptives and abortion not to have enough babies to reproduce themselves, they’re a dying civilization.”
As a result, King said, “they are replacing themselves with people who do not share their values.”
Ted Cruz has picked up the endorsement of Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, who is not only an influential political force in the first-in-the-nation caucus state but also a prominent face of the anti-gay and anti-immigration movements.
“For almost a year now, my regular prayer has been that God would raise up a leader whom he will use to restore the soul of America,” King said in a video message, asking Iowans to “do your duty for God and country, come to caucus, and support Ted Cruz for president of the United States.”
The congressman made waves nationally when he suggested that young immigrants are mostly drug smugglers who’ve “got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” but he’s been making similar comments for years, once likening immigrants to livestock while calling for an electrified border fence and depicting immigration as a “slow-motion Holocaust” and “a slow-rolling, slow-motion terrorist attack on the United States.” He has a long record of portraying immigrants as a violentthreat that will destroy the country and civilization itself.
In an interview with Iowa talk radio host Simon Conway yesterday, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, compared the power that the speaker of the House wields to “the scenario that brought about the Magna Carta” and caused “many British kings” to “lose their heads.”
Conway asked King about the efforts of Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., to reinstate an Army sergeant who was reportedly discharged for hitting an Afghan police commander who had raped a boy, efforts that he said were being held up by House Speaker John Boehner. King, who has endorsed Dan Webster, the favored speaker candidate of the House’s far-right members, told Conway that there have been “lots of discussions of how to change the rules” in the House “so that it brings out the will of the group.”
“Their job is not to impose their will on the group, as we have seen repeatedly,” he said of the House Republican leadership, “but instead to bring out the will of the group that you represent. And if you don’t do that, if you’re imposing your will on them instead of bringing out the will of them, you’re replicating the scenario that brought about the Magna Carta, for example. And how many British kings lost their head because they didn’t listen to their constituents? They don’t teach that in the history books very well, but I’m sure that heads rolled multiple times throughout history because of that, and that’s of course the big reason why the United States became the United States and separated itself.”
Immigration reform opponents are furious that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who has voiced vague support for immigration reform, is on the verge of becoming speaker of the House.
Ann Coulter, who has been urging conservatives to rally behind Donald Trump and his anti-immigration stance, told religious broadcaster Eric Metaxas yesterday that her first choice for speaker of the House is Rep. Steve King, the Iowa Republican infamous for likening immigrants to livestock and expounding on the size of their calves.
Coulter said that while she also likes Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., the choice of the House Freedom Caucus, King is an “articulate,” “smart” and “incredible” communicator for the anti-immigrant right.
After comparing Trump to Roman senator Cincinnatus, hailing them as ideal citizen-statesmen, Coulter went on to explain how to find out if someone is smart or not: “The shortcut is, where do they stand on immigration? It is the litmus test of our day, it tells you how bright someone is, it tells you whether they care about the country, it separates the mice from the men.”
During the 2013 government shutdown fight, Rep. David Nunes, R-Calif., referred to the extremist members advocating a shutdown as “lemmings with suicide vests.” But the far-right flank, often called the “Suicide Caucus,” has only grown in power since then and has recently gained momentum in its push to remove John Boehner, who they say hasn't done enough to fight President Obama, from his position as speaker of the House.
The "Suicide Caucus" is particularly angry that the House Republican leadership approved an increase in the debt ceiling and hasn’t successfully defunded Planned Parenthood or the Affordable Care Act. Of course, there was little Boehner could do to accomplish any of these goals, since Republicans could not override an inevitable veto from the president or overcome opposition from Senate Democrats. But the “Suicide Caucus” doesn’t exactly function according to logic.
Many of the most radical members of Congress became more organized with the formation of the House Freedom Caucus, which The Economist described as a group dedicated to making “reckless and unrealistic” demands of Boehner, “consistent with their record of attempting wild, hapless heists against both Mr. Obama and the Republican leadership.”
With Boehner announcing his resignation today, it’s important to remember that the people who have spent years calling for Boehner’s ouster also represent the far-right flank of the party. As Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., put it, “this is a victory for the crazies.”
And, of course, the "Suicide Caucus" treats Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as its leader, which Boehner doesn't exactly like.
The anti-Boehner caucus also got help from conservative talk radio. American Family Radio's Sandy Rios dubbed Boehner a “big liar,” AFR's Bryan Fischer compared him to Pontius Pilate and syndicated radio host Michael Savage referred to the speaker as a “deranged drunk.”
One of Boehner’s most vocal opponents was Glenn Beck, who told his listeners that they should consider themselves “done with the Republican Party” if Boehner won re-election to his post as speaker (which he did).
Beck’s choice to replace Boehner? None other than Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, the top conspiracy theorist of the House GOP.
After Gohmert tried, and failed, to win the speakership earlier this year, he explained that Americans would only turn to him to be speaker in a time of war or a similar crisis, when everyone would realize that he was the right choice all along. “The only way a guy like me could ever get elected to be speaker would be is if we were during a time of all-out war and people had figured, ‘Wow, Louie’s been right all along and maybe we should give him a chance,’” he said. “That’s the only — we’re not going to elect me in a time of undeclared war and I know that and I understood that.”
But who could better reflect the Republican Party’s decline into a hotbed of radicalism and conspiracy theories than Gohmert?
The House today approved a bill that would block federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood for one year, unless the organization certifies that it will no longer perform abortions, something that it does not currently use federal funds for.
The vote, driven by a smear campaign from anti-choice extremists, was divided mostly along party lines, with the notable exception of Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, who voted “present.” In a video statement, King explained that he didn’t think the House bill went far enough in attacking the “diabolical” Planned Parenthood, taking particular issue with the fact that the bill would allow Planned Parenthood to continue offering abortions for women who have survived rape or incest:
The Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser, one of the most influential leaders in the anti-choice movement, held trainings to teach Republican politicians how to change the subject when rape comes up. Dannenfelser has been very clear that she opposes rape exceptions in abortion bans, which she has called “abominable,” “regrettable” and “ intellectually dishonest,” but will urge lawmakers to support a bill that has to contain such exceptions for political reasons.
But hard as Dannenfelser and her allies might try to get anti-choice lawmakers to shut up about rape, they face an uphill battle. Although most anti-choice activists oppose rape exceptions, a vocal portion of the movement believes that lawmakers should automatically reject any bill that includes such exceptions.
A 20-week abortion ban that passed in the House earlier this year and will be coming up for a vote in the Senate next week has been mired for years in anti-choice infighting about rape exceptions. Before a version of the bill came up for a House vote in 2013, Republican leaders scrambled at the last minute to add a rape exception to neutralize controversial comments made by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks.
In January of this year, the House was planning to vote on the bill to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but scrapped the plan after a coalition led by female Republican lawmakers objected to a provision that would have required rape survivors to report the crime to law enforcement. An exasperated Sen. Lindsey Graham told anti-choice activists the next morning, “I’m going to need your help to find a way out of this definitional problem with rape.”