Rep. Steve King says he self-financed a trip to Egypt last week, after House Leadership revoked his funding to join a congressional delegation to country.
“I wasn’t about to let [House Speaker] John Boehner (R-OH) tell me I couldn’t [go], especially if it had to do with him wanting me to vote a certain way,” Rep. King said in an interview with Breitbart News Monday. “My vote card doesn’t belong to John Boehner.”
King has been a thorn in House leadership’s side, most recently voting against Boehner’s reelection and against funding the Department of Homeland Security without including restrictions on President Obama’s executive amnesty.
According to King, shortly before he was scheduled to leave for Egypt with the CODEL, his office received a call indicating that the Speakers Office had ordered his trip approval be rescinded.
“The CODEL was all signed off on, all certified, the ticket were bought and logistics and plans were all set up through the State Department and I had my bags packed,” King described the scene.
King declined to reveal the committee that issued the order, but charged that the order did originate in the Speakers’ Office.
“I don’t want to put the chairman in a box,” King explained. “He’s a good guy and an honest man. I will just say that he knew, he didn’t believe that it was right and I agree with him of course, but I don’t believe he had any choice whatsoever.”
A House GOP leadership aide referenced a 2012 challenge King had from Christie Vilsack in which the NRCC committed some $600,000 to see King reelected in a year that Obama won the state of Iowa by 6 percentage points. The aide argued that King should not be rewarded for his obstruction.
“Taxpayer-funded travel and other perks go to those members who deserve to be rewarded, not members who oppose the broader GOP team at every turn and then ask for a bailout come campaign season,” the aide explained to Breibart News when asked about that revocation of funds for his CODEL.
Despite losing funding approval to join his colleagues on the trip to Egypt, King said he was adamant that he attend the commitments abroad especially meeting with the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
“It was important that I not succumb to such a heavy-handed effort on the part of the Speaker but it was really about me keeping my word with President el Sisi. I said I’d be back, I was coming back, we had the plans made, we had the commitment made. And so at this point it was me and my funding, not anybody else’s. That’s how it had to be,” King said.
The Iowa Republican explained that he went ahead and booked tickets on his own and did all the stops he had initially scheduled.
“I just didn’t announce in advance that I was going to show up,” King said. “So [Rep.] Dana Rohrabacher [R-CA] was there leading the CODEL and he was quite surprised when I called him and said, ‘We’re a few miles away from you.’”
King added that he participated in press conferences and meetings during his visit, speaking highly of his meeting with Sisi — quoting the Egyptian leader extensively and arguing he understands the threat of radical Islam.
“Is it possible to accept the idea that the whole world should die so that the Muslim world can live?” King quoted Sisi to Breitbart News.
According to King, Sisi’s question “was powerfully delivered, it was rhetorical, but I had never heard it so compactly delivered.”
“President El Sisi is the Muslim moral force that could become the modern day Ataturk for global Islam,” he continued.
The Iowa Republicans concluded by pointing out the options he believes lawmakers have when faced with retribution by their leadership.
“I am not the only one who has been the target of retribution and so when you have an institutional structure that functions in that fashion, some people capitulate, some people rebel. Others try to hold principled statesmanlike ground and I think we know what we all should endeavor to do, is to hold statesmanlike ground,” he said.
The Speaker’s office declined to comment on King’s allegations.