Mar 31, 2021
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Press Conference Iowa Transcript March 31
House Minority Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy held a press conference in Davenport, Iowa on March 31, 2021. Read the full transcript of the briefing here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Kevin McCarthy: (00:12)
Thank you all for coming. I’m Congressman Kevin McCarthy. I’m the Republican Leader of the House of Representatives. I am here today, Turing Iowa with Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Congresswoman Ashley Hinson. We went to a facility for vaccination and Congresswoman Miller-Meeks went right back to being the doctor and the public health officials she always has been. Actually, my job was to maybe hold the clipboard and the timer. But if you watched her bedside manner, tremendous. The caringness of why she got elected to represent the people of Iowa’s Second District. That’s really what we want to talk a little bit about today.
Kevin McCarthy: (00:53)
When the voices across America elect a representation, they want that voice to be heard. When they go to Washington they understand it’s the People’s House, not Pelosi’s House. And the idea that Democrats want to turn over an election after it’s been counted, recounted and a bipartisan election board had voted, it’s time to move on. I’ve served with the Congresswoman. We’ve been to the border already to see the crisis. We were the first congressional delegation to go down.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:25)
And as I watched her work, understanding the crisis down on the border and coming back to Congress the next day, I watched her on the floor already offer an amendment. To make sure those coming across, especially those children get tested for COVID before they’re pushed out through cities across this country. Unfortunately, the Democrats voted against that. But we need to make sure that all of Iowa has their voices heard exactly how they voted for their voice to be heard, and that’s what this Congresswoman and what she’s doing day in and day out. With that, I want to invite up Michelle Crawford to speak a little bit about her time in Iowa as well.
Michelle Crawford: (02:06)
Good afternoon. I’m Michelle Crawford, a very proud lifelong Iowan, a Scott County resident. And I was proud to vote for Mariannette Miller-Meek. I’ve gotten to know her over the past couple of years and I knew that she would represent Iowa values. And as an Iowa voter, that’s important to me that our Iowa values are represented by who the people from Iowa want to speak and not who DC or Pelosi wants to handpick.
Michelle Crawford: (02:29)
We’ve all had elections where we didn’t get our chosen candidate elected, but we support them and we accept the results. And that is what we the people of Iowa expect to happen as well. No matter how many votes, no matter who has spoken, she was elected and we want her to be representing us. Thank you.
Kevin McCarthy: (02:48)
I also want to invite up Kerry Gruenhagen from Iowa as well.
Kerry Gruenhagen: (02:54)
Thank you. My name is Kerry Gruenhagen. I am involved in agriculture here in Iowa and whoever my Congressperson is I am used to working with them. Before Mariannette was elected, I worked with Dave Loebsack on different issues. And now I am working with Mariannette Miller-Meeks. It is important that she is elected and not appointed. I worry about who is held accountable, if she is accountable to the voters or if Hart is going to be accountable to the Democrats that are in the House. And now I’d like to welcome Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
Mariannette Miller-Meek: (03:31)
Thank you so much, Kerry.
Kerry Gruenhagen: (03:31)
Mariannette Miller-Meek: (03:32)
Well, thank you all. It’s a pleasure to be here and here in our district, we’re doing the job that we were elected to do and it’s a pleasure to be here with both Ashley Hinson and with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. You know it’s very important that people realize what’s going on. So we have elections and people need to have trust and faith and confidence in their elections. And I think it was just recently over the weekend Quad-City Times Editorial said that this move will undermine confidence in our election system.
Mariannette Miller-Meek: (04:03)
So we in Iowa worked very hard in a bipartisan way to put forth election law changes. I have an opponent who was a state Senator who if she thought that the rules and regulations were disenfranchising voters at any point in time during her six years in the State Senate, good have put forward election law changes and she declined to do so. So we had an election. I was ahead on election night. I was ahead after the 24 county canvas. I was ahead at the end of the recount, which is a bipartisan three-member board that had the opportunity to view and eyeball ballots and they did so, and at the end of that process was still ahead.
Mariannette Miller-Meek: (04:43)
I was then certified by the state in a bipartisan five-member executive council certified that result. I’ve been sworn into Congress and on swearing in day January 3rd, there was a motion made not to seat members. And the Democrats, every single Democrat in Congress voted that every person being sworn in was in fact the elected representative for that state. No one contested that election. So what’s happening now when you have someone declined to go through their court that can look at contested ballots?
Mariannette Miller-Meek: (05:17)
Think about this. You or I, ordinary citizens if we had a grievance, we’d have to go through court to settle that grievance. We couldn’t go to a member of Congress and say, “I didn’t like the results they counted and recounted and recounted, but it didn’t come out the way I want.” So can a partisan political process body overturn that result? And that’s what’s happening here. But in the meantime, I’m going to do my job as a Congresswoman. I’m going to give vaccines as a doctor. I’m going to visit. I’m going to work on bills. We’re going to work on border issues. We’re going to work on opening our schools on childcare workforce. Putting forward amendments to get children vaccinated or tested at the border for COVID-19 before they’re sent to the interior.
Mariannette Miller-Meek: (06:06)
We’re going to keep working in serving the people of Iowa as we go through this process, but people should be outraged. It’s not personally me. It’s a seat in Congress. And if our votes don’t count in Iowa, if six votes aren’t enough to win an election, then why are six members on a committee able to overturn an election? Rita Hart herself said, “I had to skip over the courts and go to Congress to get the result I need.” And her attorney said in his filing to the House Committee on Administration that, “The committee should use its full discretion to depart from Iowa law.”
Mariannette Miller-Meek: (06:48)
No one, I don’t care where you live, what party you are. No one should be okay with violating state laws to get the results of an election that they want. We should all be outraged at that. So it’s been a pleasure to be with you. It’s a pleasure to be here with both Michelle and with Kerry, and with Representative Hinson and Representative McCarthy. And I’m going to turn it over to Representative Ashley Hinson, to say a few words as well.
Ashley Hinson: (07:16)
Thank you. The fact of the matter is we are here today because voter integrity matters. It’s such an important time for our country to move forward and we have to have full faith in our elections. Bills are working their way through legislatures across the country. We’re proposing pieces of legislation in Congress to help make sure that you believe your vote counts and your vote does count. We believe that firmly here in Iowa and that’s why I’m here today supporting my friend and my Congresswoman, my fellow Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
Ashley Hinson: (07:44)
She is a true public servant. She is serving the people of Iowa who elected her. These votes again have been certified, they’ve been recounted and they’ve been counted again. Over and over again, the result is the same and your Congresswoman here in Iowa’s Second District is Mariannette Miller-Meeks. So voter election integrity matters. We are all standing for that here today. I can tell you Iowans throughout the state are coming up to their members of Congress and talking to them about this. Members across the country are hearing about it from their constituents.
Ashley Hinson: (08:11)
I was at a grocery store meat counter the other day and I had a woman come up to me with her young child and she said, “Ashley, we’re hearing about what’s happening with Mariannette and that’s just abhorrent.” And I think that that message is very, very clear. It’s resonating across the country. Iowa elections are up to Iowa election officials and the voters of this state. And we’ve made that very, very clear. So at that point, we’re happy to answer questions that you may have. But we’re standing for election integrity and we’re standing for Mariannette Miller-Meeks, our Congresswoman here in the Second District.
Kevin McCarthy: (08:42)
Speaker 6: (08:43)
Leader McCarthy participated in a contest like this in the past and said that was a process to be proud of. What is different about this process now?
Kevin McCarthy: (08:53)
A process to be proud of, what you quoting?
Speaker 6: (08:56)
From a statement that you gave, I believe was a Florida seat of a contested election that went through-
Kevin McCarthy: (09:04)
At the end of it. When I first became a freshman member, the Democrats took the majority. The Democrats did the exact same thing then. They contested a race for Vern Buchanan. I tried to dissuade them moving forward, but they kept for months in question about whether Vern Buchanan was a Congressman. They went back and they wanted to see the machines. They thought the machines did something wrong electronically. So Lofgren did. Just so happens that Lofgren is the chair of this committee now. At the end, the same result came forward, that the result that Florida had there in Vern Buchanan.
Kevin McCarthy: (09:38)
You’re probably taking a quote out of context. I didn’t think they need to go forward with that. Vern Buchanan was the member of Congress. He ended up being a member of Congress. If I would say anything to the American public, whether you’re Republican or Democrat and you’re a member of Congress, there’s three things you should be working on. It should be back to work, back to school and back to health. The Democrats put their very first bill, their most important bill H.R. 1 wasn’t about putting the 10 million out of work back in or about kids back into school or even more vaccines.
Kevin McCarthy: (10:11)
It was about election law and changing election law that would give them an advantage. And now on the very first day of being sworn in, they wanted to question this election. And even though the person who lost said the reason why they came to Congress just to get the outcome that they could have. Then we listened to Speaker Pelosi, believing that she has the right to pick and choose who’s a member of Congress. What happened to the people’s voice from Iowa too, from Michelle and Kerry? That even though at times they voted and their person didn’t win, they still worked with the person who did.
Kevin McCarthy: (10:43)
It is the People’s House. And that’s what’s so disturbing to me. Why would you keep forward with this when it’s been counted, it’s been recounted, a bipartisan election board with through it, and the secretary of state sent a certificate? The question raises to the Democrats. Just because you have a five seat majority, the smallest majority you’ve had more than 100 years, would you be doing this now? Would you do it if you didn’t have a five seat majority?
Kevin McCarthy: (11:17)
Because at the end of the day, the Iowans made a decision and it’s their voice, and they have a right to have Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks who they elected to continue to serve them. Just like she’s been doing every single day since she’s been sworn in.
Speaker 7: (11:33)
Leader McCarthy, the challenger is alleging there were 22 ballots that went uncounted. This process has been set up to determine whether or not these ballots were accurately counted. What is owed to those 22 voters who currently their ballots have not been counted?
Kevin McCarthy: (11:55)
It’s interesting how the person who lost in this race picks certain ballots. This race had been counted on Election Day and after. This race went through a recount so they dealt with those 22. This race went to a bipartisan election board that voted unanimously and decided, I don’t think there’s any other question about the race is over. I understand people get upset when they lose, but the idea that you want to come in and play a political game is concerning to me.
Speaker 7: (12:22)
But isn’t this a legal constitutionally back process?
Kevin McCarthy: (12:27)
Do the Iowans have a voice in this race? If you want it constitutional backed, the states decide. The federal government inside Congress if Nancy Pelosi wants to pull that game to try to pick and choose who she’s going against the voice of Iowa’s Second District and I think that’s wrong. Yes sir.
Speaker 8: (12:47)
Could you explain how this doesn’t seem to be a complete juxtapose of things that were being said in November through January at the presidential election and the Electoral College?
Kevin McCarthy: (12:57)
Exactly. Because the Electoral College, if you go back and take just Speaker Pelosi’s words herself when they challenged the Electoral College the three times prior when Republicans won, she said, “This is democracy. This is the time to do it.” If you take into consideration what transpired on the floor in the House, it’s a role that Congress has to play. Congress only challenged two states that would not change the electoral vote, which takes 270 to become president. So regardless what transpired that day on the floor of Congress, it would not change the outcome of the presidency. Joe Biden would be president, they are not.
Kevin McCarthy: (13:31)
But just as Nancy Pelosi said, it’s the only time Congress has an opportunity to raise the question within the state. And if you look to a number of members who rose that question, they were raising the question, not about there. They were raising the question if you changed election law, was the state able to do it? Because in the Constitution, the state legislature has the responsibility to change it. And was it being changed and not glorified? So it was more a constitutional question, but no, they they don’t enter change. Yes sir.
Speaker 9: (14:04)
Certainly, Congresswoman Meeks won. I guess why oppose a process allowed under federal law to allow Rita Hart and others to argue and ensure that all votes have been examined? Unfortunately, those 22 ballots because of Iowa law weren’t considered in the recount. So why not allow the-
Kevin McCarthy: (14:20)
Because you’ve already counted, recounted and had a bipartisan board. What’s interesting to me if you want to raise the question, if you looked at past history. In past history and just as we know as all Americans, you’re innocent till proven guilty, correct? So why in every other election contest, if they went through the House, why have they changed the rules now? The majority party of the Democrats have changed it and now made it it’s not innocent till proven guilty. Now Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who is the sitting Congresswoman has to prove why she won.
Kevin McCarthy: (14:55)
It’s not the burden upon the others to prove why she did not. They changed the rules. Why? Because they want to set up to try to steal a seat because they only have a five seat majority. We’ve watched what they do already. And the reason why I raised this question, watch what Nancy Pelosi has done since she became Speaker this term. She has changed the rules of the institution that have never been changed before. She took away the right of the minority to offer an amendment. Something that’s been in the history of Congress. She’s gone to remove members of the other party from a committee, which has never been done in Congress before either. So why are they continuing to do this? Simply because they have such a small majority, they believe they would win 15 to 20 seats.
Kevin McCarthy: (15:39)
And in fact, they were the ones who lost. And now they’re concerned that they cannot pass such a socialist wing of an agenda with such a small majority, that they want to steal a seat, but disenfranchise those of Iowa. I just believe that’s wrong. And I thank the American public. And even if you look into Iowa today, if you read the editorial papers, those who didn’t even endorse Congresswoman Miller-Meeks believe it is wrong what is going on. So how much will Iowa have to hurt and how long will this have to continue on when it’s already been decided? That’s the real question.
Speaker 9: (16:12)
So speaking about making sure the voices aren’t disenfranchised among those 22 are Scott County residents. Two passed curbside votes and another who passed an absentee ballot that accidentally got ripped. Why should their votes and their voices not count along with the others?
Kevin McCarthy: (16:28)
We have counted the race, we have recounted the race and we have an election board with their job of bipartisan to look at this. They are the expertise and they have come to the decision. You have elections and when the election’s over, it’s time to govern. The election is over, Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks won the race and it’s time to allow Iowa to have their voice. [crosstalk 00:16:51] You have a question?
Speaker 10: (16:54)
On a different question, actually. So you’re here, vaccine distribution. A lot of reason that this is happening is because of the American Rescue Plan, which every single Republican voted against. So how do you come and promote components of that bill while also opposing it-
Kevin McCarthy: (17:12)
Well, that’s easy. So we went to a vaccination space because of that 1.9 trillion, less than 9% of that money went to anything with COVID. So none of that money just voted on was doing anything that was happening in that unit. But we have been able to pass five times [crosstalk 00:17:29].
Kevin McCarthy: (17:29)
We have passed five bipartisan bills that dealt with that. That money is not even out and less than 9%, but you know where that money does go to? And this is what I think America gets most upset with. If you’re a federal employee or a state employee, there’s an opportunity for a bonus for you. But if you’re in the private sector, you can’t. If you’re prisoner, you can get a check. I think they want to see accountability. There was more than a trillion dollars already appropriated sitting there still to go out.
Kevin McCarthy: (17:58)
And to all the family members, the fathers, the mothers, the teachers that want to see the schools opened back up, two-thirds of that money won’t even go out for the schools until 2023. Ashley Hinson had a bill four times on the floor to bring that money out now so the schools can open back up. And what just infuriates Americans even more is that we watch this crisis on the border that unfortunately President Biden has created. That when they offered for school teachers to come because it proves school teachers want to teach again, they want to go back to work. That they went in and can give in-person education to the illegal immigrants who came across.
Kevin McCarthy: (18:44)
But to the American hardworking taxpayer, to that family that’s become the teacher, the coach, the music teacher, the PE teacher, the arts and their kids still at home. That’s frustrating. And to think that we’re spending 1.9 trillion, but it can’t go anywhere now. I’m proud of the five bills we did bipartisan. I’m proud that we worked together. I’m proud of we were able to do the PPP to help the small businesses. I’m proud of the ability that we put so we have three vaccines that are there today that can help solve this virus, and that’s why we visited it today. And I was proud to have the doctor. [crosstalk 00:19:21]
Speaker 10: (19:21)
Davenport got $40 million in the American Rescue Plan should send that money back if they could?
Kevin McCarthy: (19:28)
No, what but I think, the cities it’s unfortunate that in the so-called American Rescue Plan that they changed the formula. They changed the formula to benefits states that I think did the wrong thing, that they got rewarded states and not equal in the formula that it was before. I think there should be an equal formula just as we’ve done in the past, just as when we voted on those five bills Davenport got money from. And I’m proud of that fact. I appreciate all of your time. Thank you very much.
Speaker 11: (19:54)
What about Representative Gaetz?
Kevin McCarthy: (19:55)
What about him?
Speaker 11: (19:57)
There is talk of him and allegations regarding a young girl.
Kevin McCarthy: (20:01)
There’s talk that-
Speaker 11: (20:03)
[crosstalk 00:20:03] are you still supporting him? Are you talking to him about it? Where do things stand right now from your point of view?
Kevin McCarthy: (20:09)
There was a New York Times story that I read. I haven’t been able to talk to Mr. Gaetz yet. Mr. Gaetz denies the story, but I look forward to talking to Mr. Gaetz. I haven’t heard anything from the DOJ or others, but I will deal with it if any of it comes to be true.
Speaker 11: (20:21)
Should he remain in his seat?
Kevin McCarthy: (20:23)