Steve King

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Steve King
Steve King Official.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Tom Latham
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 5th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Tom Latham
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Member of the Iowa Senate
from the 6th district
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Wayne D. Bennett
Succeeded by Thurman Gaskill
Personal details
Born Steven Arnold King
(1949-05-28) May 28, 1949 (age 69)
Storm Lake, Iowa, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Marilyn
Children 3
Residence Kiron, Iowa
Alma mater Northwest Missouri State University
Profession Construction contractor
Religion Roman Catholicism (Formerly Methodism)

Steven Arnold "Steve" King (born May 28, 1949) is the U.S. representative for Iowa's 4th congressional district, serving in congress since 2003; the district is located in the northwestern part of the state and includes Sioux City. King is a member of the Republican Party.

Personal life, education, and business career

King was born on May 28, 1949, in Storm Lake, Iowa, the son of Mildred Lila (née Culler), a homemaker, and Emmett A. King, a state police dispatcher.[1] His father has Irish and German ancestry, and his mother has Welsh mixed with others going back to the colonial era.[1] King has also stated that he is Latino, although it has since been established that he is not.[1][2][3] King graduated in 1967 from Denison Community High School.[1][4] He is married to Marilyn, with whom he has three children. Raised a Methodist, King attended his wife's Catholic church, converting 17 years after marrying her.[1]

King attended Northwest Missouri State University from 1967 to 1970, and was a member of the Alpha Kappa Lambda Fraternity,[5] majoring in math and biology.[1] He did not graduate. Congressman King avoided the draft with "2S" deferments in 1967, 1968 and 1969. Nine days after receiving his third deferment, President Richard Nixon signed an amendment to the Military Service Act of 1967 that created the draft lottery. Under the new lottery system, draft deferments were still allowed. Because he had been receiving deferments under the old draft system, King was still shielded from being drafted in the lottery system as long as he maintained his deferments and stayed in school.

In the first lottery held on December 1st, 1969, 366 numbers were assigned, one for each possible birth date. The birth date of May 28, Steve King’s birth date, was assigned number 308. This was an extremely high number. The highest number drafted that year was, in fact, 195. Furthermore, King’s draft number was assigned to him permanently. It meant that he would be protected from the draft by his high number even if he allowed his draft deferment to expire by leaving school. King did leave school when he quit Northwest Missouri State University in 1970. No reason has ever been publicly offered as to why he chose to leave Northwest Missouri State three years into his college education without earning a degree. During those three years King spent in Maryville, the United States suffered its greatest losses in Vietnam with 39,721 soldiers killed.[6]

In 1975, he founded King Construction, an earth moving company. King founded the Kiron Business Association in the 1980s. His involvement with the Iowa Land Improvement Contractors' Association led to regional and national offices in that organization and a growing interest in public policy.[4][7]

Iowa Senate (1997–2003)


In 1996, he ran for Iowa's 6th Senate district and defeated Democrat Eileen Heiden 64%–35%.[8] In 2000, he won re-election to a second term, defeating Democratic Party candidate Dennis Ryan 70%–30%.[9]


From 1996 to 2002, King served as an Iowa state senator, representing the 6th district.[5] He assisted in eliminating the inheritance tax, authored and passed into law workplace drug testing, worked for strengthening parental rights, passing tax cuts for working residents of Iowa, and passing a law that made English the official language in Iowa.[10]

Committee assignments

  • Appropriations
  • Business and Labor
  • Commerce
  • Judiciary
  • Oversight Budget (vice chair)
  • State Government (chair)

U.S. House of Representatives (2003–present)


Steve King at an event in Ames, Iowa in August 2011.

In 2002, after redistricting, King ran for the open Iowa's 5th congressional district. The incumbent, fellow Republican Tom Latham, had his home drawn into the reconfigured 4th district. He ranked first in the four-way Republican primary with 31% of the vote.[11] He was unable to procure the 35% voting threshold needed to win; subsequently, a nominating convention was held, which led to a nomination for King, who defeated state house speaker Brent Siegrist 51%–47%.[12][13] King won the general election, defeating Council Bluffs city councilman Paul Shomshor 62%–38%. He won all the counties in the predominantly Republican district except Pottawattamie.[14]


King won re-election to a second term, defeating Democratic candidate Joyce Schulte, 63%–37%. He won all the counties in the district except Clarke.[15]


In 2006, King won re-election to a third term, defeating Democratic candidate Joyce Schulte, 59%–36%. He won all the counties in the district except Clarke and Union.[16][17]


King won re-election to a fourth term, defeating Democratic candidate Rob Hubler, 60%–37%. For the first time in his career he won all 32 counties in his district.[18][19]


King won re-election to a fifth term, defeating Matt Campbell, 66%–32%. That was his highest percentage yet. King also won all 32 counties again.[20][21]


Iowa lost a district as a result of the 2010 census. King's district was renumbered as the 4th District, and pushed well to the east, absorbing Mason City and Ames in the process. This placed King and his predecessor, Latham, in the same district. Latham opted to move to the reconfigured 3rd District to challenge Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell. The reconfigured district was, at least on paper, much more competitive than King's old district. The old 5th had a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+9, while the new 4th has a PVI of R+4. The new 4th was also mostly new to him; he only retained 45 percent of his former territory. Indeed, geographically it was more Latham's district than King's; it closely resembled the territory that Latham had represented from 1995 to 2003.

Soon afterward, former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack, the wife of former governor and current U.S. agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, announced she was moving to the new 4th to challenge King. King received the endorsement of Mitt Romney, who said, "I'm looking here at Steve King because this man needs to be your congressman again. I want him as my partner in Washington, D.C."[22] King won re-election to a sixth term, defeating Vilsack, 53%–45%. King won all but seven counties, none of which he had previously represented: Webster, Boone, Story, Chickasaw, Floyd, Cerro Gordo, and Winnebago.[23][24] King later said of his 2012 victory, "I faced $7 million, the best of everything Democrats can throw at me, their dream candidate and everything that can come from the Obama machine, and prevailed through all of that with 55 percent of my district that was new."[25]


On May 3, 2013, King announced via Twitter that he would not run for the U.S. Senate in 2014.[26]

King won re-election with 61.6% of the vote, defeating Democratic candidate Jim Mowrer.[27]


King is considered an outspoken fiscal and social conservative. After winning the 2002 Republican nomination, he said that he intended to use his seat in Congress to "move the political center of gravity in Congress to the right."[28]

During the 110th Congress, King voted with the majority of the Republican Party 90.9% of the time.[29] King has continuously voted for Iraq War legislation, and has supported surge efforts and opposed a time table for troop withdrawals. During the 112th United States Congress King was one of 40 "staunch" members of the Republican Study Committee who frequently voted against Republican party leadership and vocally expressed displeasure with House bills.[30]

In August 2015, King was named the least effective member of Congress by InsideGov.[31]

Abortion and stem cells

King scored a 100% rating with the National Right to Life Committee, indicating an anti-abortion voting record. King also voted no on allowing human embryonic stem cell research.[32] King supports the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would ban federal funding of abortions except in cases of what the bill calls "forcible rape". This would remove the coverage from Medicaid that covers abortions for victims of statutory rape or incest.”[33]

After Todd Akin made a controversial statement about "legitimate rape" on August 19, 2012, King came to his defense, characterizing the critical response as "petty personal attacks", and calling Akin a "strong Christian man".[34][35] King said that Akin's voting record should be more important than his words.[36][37][38] Six months later, King's defense of Akin (who lost his race) was seen as politically damaging by Steven J. Law of the Conservative Victory Project, a group including Karl Rove that was working to discourage those they deemed unelectable conservative candidates, to enable more likely conservative candidates to gain office. Law said, "We're concerned about Steve King's Todd Akin problem."[39][40]

Gun ownership

King supports a broad legal latitude for individual gun ownership.[41]

Animal rights

In February 2010, King tweeted about chasing and shooting a raccoon that had tried getting inside his house during a blizzard, receiving criticism from animal rights groups. He defended his actions, saying the animal might have been sick.[42]

In July 2012, King opposed the McGovern amendment (to the 2012 farm bill) to establish misdemeanor penalties for knowingly attending an organized animal fight and felony penalties for bringing a minor to such a fight. King was also one of 39 members of the House to vote against an upgrade of penalties for transporting fighting animals across state lines in 2007.[43] King received a score of zero on the 2012 Humane Society Legislative Fund's Humane Scorecard.[44][45][46] Afterwards, he put out a video clarifying his position where he defended his position by stating that it would be putting animals above humans if it was legal to watch humans fight, but not animals.[47][48]

In July 2012, King introduced an amendment to the House Farm Bill that would legalize previously banned animal agriculture practices such as tail-docking, putting arsenic in chicken feed, and keeping impregnated pigs in small crates. "My language wipes out everything they’ve done with pork and veal," King said of his amendment.[49] The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) President Wayne Pacelle said the measure could nullify "any laws to protect animals, and perhaps ... laws to protect the environment, workers, or public safety."[50]

In May 2013, King introduced another amendment to the House Farm Bill, the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA). He stated, "PICA blocks states from requiring 'free range' eggs or 'free range' pork."[51]

On 27 January 2014, the controversial provision was dropped from the House farm bill.[52]

Same-sex marriage and LGBT rights

On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a state ban on same-sex marriage violated the Iowa constitution.[53] King soon commented that the judges "should resign from their position" and the state legislature "must also enact marriage license residency requirements so that Iowa does not become the gay marriage Mecca."[54] King, along with others, mounted a campaign against the retention of all three Iowa Supreme Court judges who ruled on the gay marriage case. King bought $80,000 of radio advertising across the state calling for Iowans to vote "no" on the judges. Subsequently, all three judges were not retained.[55]

On October 7, 2014 King was one of 19 members of Congress inducted into the LGBT civil rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign's "Hall of Shame" for his opposition to LGBT equality.[56][57]

In response to the Supreme Court's 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the court ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutionally protected right, King has called for a non-binding resolution saying that states may refuse to recognize the decision.[58][59] King has also called for the abolishment of civil marriage.[60][61]

Healthcare and federal budget

King fought against Medicare and Medicaid paying for a number of medications such as Viagra, which he described as "recreational drugs".[62] King also has voted against each stimulus bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, saying, “Our economy will not recover because government spends more. It will recover because people produce more.”[63]

Hurricane Katrina aid

King gained prominence by being one of 11 in Congress to vote against the $52 billion Hurricane Katrina Aid package, claiming fiscal responsibility and the government needing a comprehensive plan for spending aid money.


In April 2006, conservative members of Congress proposed strengthening law enforcement against illegal immigration to the United States. When asked if "the US economy simply couldn't function without" the presence of illegal immigrants, King said that he rejected that position "categorically". He said the 77.5 million people between the ages of sixteen and sixty-five in the United States who are not part of the workforce "could be put to work and we could invent machines to replace the rest."[64]

In July 2013, speaking about proposed immigration legislation, King said of undocumented immigrants, "For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds—and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."[65] Despite strong rebukes from Democrats and King's fellow Republicans alike, with blunt rebukes from House speaker John Boehner, who called his statements "ignorant" and "hateful" and House majority leader Eric Cantor, who called the comments "inexcusable"; King continued to defend his comments, asserting he got the description from the border patrol.[66][67][68]

Referencing HUD secretary Julian Castro's remarks on how poorly the Republican Party was doing with Hispanic voters, King responded in a July 2015 tweet "What does Julian Castro know? Does he know that I'm as Hispanic and Latino as he?"[68][69] King is neither Hispanic nor Latino by either family history or ethnic definition.[70] He once visited Cuba, in May 2001.[1]

Obama's middle name and Islam

On March 7, 2008, during his press engagements to announce his reelection campaign, King made remarks about U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his middle name "Hussein", saying:

I don't want to disparage anyone because of their race, their ethnicity, their name—whatever their religion their father might have been, I'll just say this: When you think about the optics of a Barack Obama potentially getting elected President of the United States – I mean, what does this look like to the rest of the world? What does it look like to the world of Islam? I will tell you that, if he is elected president, then the radical Islamists, the al-Qaida, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11.[71]

Then on March 10, King defended his comments to The Associated Press, saying "(Obama will) certainly be viewed as a savior for them.... That's why you will see them supporting him, encouraging him."[72]

Obama said he did not take the comments too seriously, describing King as an individual who thrives on making controversial statements to get media coverage. He said, "I would hope Sen. McCain would want to distance himself from that kind of inflammatory and offensive remarks." The McCain campaign disavowed King's comments, saying "John McCain rejects the type of politics that degrades our civics… and obviously that extends to Congressman King's statement."[72]

In mid-January 2009, King acknowledged that terrorists were not dancing in the streets, and in fact "They have made statements against Obama." But he also claimed that he found Obama's decision to use his middle name "Hussein" when he was to be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009, to be "bizarre" and "a double-standard".[73]

Affirmative action

King opposes affirmative action. King has stated: “There’s been legislation that’s been brought through this House that sets aside benefits for women and minorities. The only people that it excludes are white men...Pretty soon, white men are going to notice they are the ones being excluded.”[74]

Political lobbying

On February 26, 2010, King went to the House floor to protest the Democrats' handling of health care reform and said: "Lobbyists do a very effective and useful job on this Hill. ... There's a credibility there in that arena that I think somebody needs to stand up for the lobby, and it is a matter of providing a lot of valuable information."[75]

Racial profiling

Steve King said on the floor of the House on June 14, 2010 that racial profiling is an important component of law enforcement: "Some claim that the Arizona law will bring about racial discrimination profiling. First let me say, Mr. Speaker, that profiling has always been an important component of legitimate law enforcement. If you can’t profile someone, you can’t use those common sense indicators that are before your very eyes. Now, I think it’s wrong to use racial profiling for the reasons of discriminating against people, but it’s not wrong to use race or other indicators for the sake of identifying people that are violating the law."[76] As an example of profiling, King described an instance when a taxi driver would stop for him before he had to hail a cab, just because he was in a business suit.[77]

Steve King said on a radio show on June 14, 2010 that President Barack Obama's policies favor black people. On G. Gordon Liddy's radio program, King said, "The president has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race—on the side that favors the black person in the case of Prof. Gates and officer Crowley."[78]

Global warming

King dismissed the concern over global warming, labeling it a "religion" and claiming efforts to address climate change are useless.[79][80] A day after claiming that climate change was more "a religion than a science," Steve King reasserted that many scientists overreact when discussing the consequences of global warming.[81] King said that, "Everything that might result from a warmer planet is always bad in [environmentalists'] analysis. There will be more photosynthesis going on if the Earth gets warmer. ... And if sea levels go up 4 or 6 inches, I don't know if we'd know that. We don't know where sea level is even, let alone be able to say that it's going to come up an inch globally because some polar ice caps might melt because there's CO2 suspended in the atmosphere."[82]

2016 Presidential election support

King strongly endorsed Ted Cruz for the 2016 Republican candidate for President of the United States.[83]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships


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External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tom Latham
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 5th congressional district

Constituency abolished
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 4th congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jeb Hensarling
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
John Kline