President Barack Obama isn’t the only person using his guest spots at the State of the Union address to bring attention to hot-button political issues. U.S. Rep. Steve King, a prominent conservative lawmaker from Iowa, said Tuesday that he will leave a seat open to represent millions of “aborted babies.”
“I have reserved it to commemorate the lives of more than 55 million aborted babies, ‘the chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world,’” King said in a statement, the Hill reported.
King’s announcement comes after the president said last week he would be leaving one of his guest seats empty to honor victims of gun violence. Already up in arms over Obama’s proposed executive actions on gun control, some Republicans criticized the president for using his guest spot in a move they saw as anti-gun. Among those leading the charge against Obama was presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who tweeted that, if he were president, he would leave an open seat for the “unborn children killed” since the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in the United States.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 8, 2016
Cruz will not be attending the State of the Union address Tuesday night because he will be on the campaign trail. But the show of support from King is no surprise — the conservative congressman endorsed Cruz in November and has campaigned with the Texas senator in his home state of Iowa.
The Texas senator also recently named King one of his national campaign co-chairs. King, who is considered a hardliner on immigration issues, has vocally disagreed with Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and has caused controversies in the past with comments about immigrants and Hispanic Americans.
For his part, King will not be in the House chamber during Obama’s speech Tuesday night, the Hill reported. Instead, he will be praying in the Capitol chapel for a new president who shares more of his views. “I will be in the member's chapel praying for God to raise up a leader whom he will use to restore the soul of America,” King said, according to the Hill.
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 12, 2016