Thursday, May 21, 2020

The 2020 Election could very well spell the end of Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) political career, and as far as we’re concerned, it could not come a moment too soon. When it comes to animal welfare, King is a genuine outlier, and that’s why we’ve made him the focus of the HSLF’s first 2020 election season advertisement. And because of his erratic and contentious public positions, he’s facing serious challengers, who have raised more funds than he has, and seems increasingly vulnerable this year.

Few American politicians in recent history have proved as divisive and unpopular as King. Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution of disapproval after remarks in which King questioned the offensiveness of white supremacy and white nationalism. Subsequently, the House Republican Steering Committee unanimously voted to exclude King from any positions on House committees in the 116th Congress, kicking him off the Agriculture, Judiciary, and Small Business Committees.

Stripped of his committee assignments, King’s influence dramatically shrank. Nowhere was this more apparent than on the House Agriculture Committee—where he had attempted to shape policy for an industry central to his home state’s economy, and the place where King had launched many of his attacks against animal protection over the years

Our advertisement highlights King’s abysmal record on animal welfare and the environment.

A prime example is King’s bizarre opposition to the restriction of animal fighting. In the last Congress, King voted against an amendment to the Farm Bill, which sought to clarify that federal prohibitions on animal fighting apply in all U.S. jurisdictions, including U.S. territories. This amendment passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 359-51 and was enacted in December. In 2007, King voted against the Animal Fighting Enforcement Prohibition Act, which strengthened penalties for illegal animal fighting and made it a felony to transport animals across state lines for the purpose of fighting. In 2013, King tried unsuccessfully to block legislation that made it a crime for an adult to attend or bring a child to a dogfight or cockfight. 

King is also responsible for one of the worst threats to animal protection and most egregious power grabs in U.S. history. Thankfully, Congress rejected twice—in the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills—the King amendment, or the “Protect Interstate Commerce Act,” which threatened to nullify countless state and local laws regarding animals and a range of other concerns including food safety and the environment.

As if this weren’t enough, King also has a history of voting against wildlife and equines. He has repeatedly voted to promote the slaughter of American horses for human consumption in foreign countries even though 80 percent of the U.S. public overwhelmingly opposes it. He’s voted for legislation that undermines the Endangered Species Act, removing critical protections for some of America’s most iconic and imperiled species, including grizzly bears and wolves. He also voted to restore extremely cruel and scientifically unjustified methods of trophy hunting on National Park and National Refuge lands in Alaska.

This year, King faces serious challengers for his seat. Iowa State Senator Randy Feenstra is running a strong campaign against King in the Republican Primary Election, and, should King earn the Republican nomination, he will have to face Democrat J.D. Scholten in the November election. In the struggle for campaign dollars, both Feenstra and Scholten have significantly outraised King to date. 

So much has been said about King’s unsuitability for office that it is hard to find new ways to state the case. But in certain respects, he seems to have bottomed out over the last year, setting the stage for the election of a new and better-qualified individual to represent the people of the 4th District. We are counting on them to tell him that his time is up. But we can all do our part to make this the year we send Steve King packing, not merely in the interests of Iowans but for the benefit of the nation. Service in Congress is a matter of the highest distinction, and King has fallen as far below the standard as just about any representative in recent history. Together, we can do something about that.