The cadre of hard-line conservatives, spearheaded by Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), among others, has been trying to round up signatures for a draft petition that would force the GOP to consider reinstating King. The effort, however, has failed to garner enough support in the caucus. The letter needed the backing of 25 lawmakers to raise the issue with the Republican Steering Committee and 50 members to force a closed-ballot vote in the wider GOP conference.
Republican leaders have made clear that they have no plans to reverse course after stripping King of his committee assignments for defending white supremacy and white nationalism in an interview with The New York Times in January. The House also overwhelmingly voted to condemn King, who maintains that his comments were misinterpreted.
“Steve King’s rhetoric has been a thorn in everyone’s side for years and I don’t think anyone is eager to return to the incessant headaches that lending him credibility brings,” said a GOP aide. “While there may be a very small faction of his friends that want to help him out, the vast majority of Republicans know that his offensive views haven’t changed, and that those views have no place in our party.”