Chuck Schumer Criticized for Praising Peter King After Retirement Announcement

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer faced criticism for praising Republican Representative Peter King after news broke of the senator's decision to not seek re-election in 2020.

"Peter King stood head [and] shoulders above everyone else ... I will miss him in Congress [and] value his friendship," Schumer wrote on Twitter.

On Monday morning, King announced on Twitter that he would be retiring from Congress after 28 years when his term concludes in 2020. The New York congressman called not seeking reelection a "difficult decision" and noted that the years he spent fighting for his constituents were "extremely fulfilling."

King is the latest Republican congressman to announce that their name would not be on the upcoming election's ballot. To date, four Republican senators and 17 Republican representatives publicly said they would not seek reelection, according to Fox News. Some speculated Republicans deciding to leave Washington, D.C., could make their seats vulnerable to a Democratic successor, thereby enabling the Democratic Party to increase their presence in Congress.

Schumer, who also represents New York in Washington, D.C., credited King with being principled and a person who never let "others push him away from his principles." He added that King left a "lasting mark," on America, Long Island and his Irish heritage, which he "fiercely loved."

chuck schumer peter king criticism retirement news
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer talks about the possible impeachment proceedings by the House of Representatives during a press conference after Senate policy luncheons on Capitol Hill on October 16 in Washington, D.C. On Monday, Schumer was criticized for praising Senator Peter King after news broke of his intention to not seek reelection in 2020. Tasos Katopodis/Getty

In August, the two politicians spoke in support of bipartisan universal background check legislation. They jointly urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the bill, which passed the House of Representatives, to a vote in the Senate. The bill would require federal background checks for all gun sales.

At hearing the news of King's retirement, not everyone was as complimentary of the senator as Schumer.

Representative Ilhan Omar characterized King as an Islamophobe and Senator Bernie Sanders' Foreign Policy Advisor Matt Duss called him "one of Congress' most outspoken anti-Muslim bigots."

Peter King is an Islamophobe who held McCarthyite hearings targeting American Muslims, said “there are too many mosques in this country” and blamed Eric Garner for his own death at the hands of police.

Good riddance.

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 11, 2019

In 2019 you can be one of Congress's most outspoken anti-Muslim bigots and still be considered "one of the more moderate GOP members of the House."

— Matt Duss (@mattduss) November 11, 2019

In 2011, King was chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and held hearings focused on the radicalization of Muslims in the United States. King called the hearings "absolutely essential," in a post-9/11 world, according to CNN, but others accused him of bigotry and Islamophobia and compared him to former Senator Joseph McCarthy, who held hearings targeting alleged communism in the United States.

He was also criticized in 2014 for claiming that had Eric Garner not been overweight with a heart condition, he "almost definitely" would not have died from a police chokehold.

Given these incidents, as well as comments he made about NFL players kneeling, and King's support of President Donald Trump's immigration policies, people criticized Schumer for putting him on a pedestal.

The most Schumer thing possible is heaping praise on a Republican who wanted to bring American Muslims before Congress for loyalty trials

— Luke Darby (@dukelarby) November 11, 2019

Let me be VERY clear:

Chuck Schumer is unwilling to even CRITICIZE, much less actually oppose, the people whose ONLY goal is to dismantle our democracy in support of a fascist authoritarian regime.

Chuck Schumer is an existential threat to this country and MUST be removed.

— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) November 11, 2019

Schumer may think this is "civility." It's not. It's pandering to some of the most virulently hateful sentiments in American public life. For the sake of "bipartisanship." A bipartisan disregard for human rights and fundamental decency. Uncivil discourse at its most refined.

— Jeff Sharlet (@JeffSharlet) November 11, 2019

Will Bunch, a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, told Schumer to delete the tweet and political strategist Peter Daou posted on Twitter it was a perfect example of why he criticizes Democratic leaders for enabling Republicans.

"We need a new Democratic Party," Daou added.

With the time he has left in Congress, King said in a Facebook post that he will vote against impeaching Trump and support the president's bid for reelection.