Jul 21, 2020
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Press Conference Transcript July 21 with Liz Cheney
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Liz Cheney, and other House Republicans held a press conference alongside on July 21. Read the full transcript here.
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Liz Cheney: (00:00)
At stake in this election. What’s at stake, what America would look like under a Biden-Pelosi-Schumer regime. Biden and Pelosi and Schumer, if we aren’t successful at keeping the Senate which we absolutely must be, would ensure that the United States is not able to recover from COVID for decades. We’d see increased taxes, we’d see new red tape, we’ve seen already efforts to kill medical innovation, to expand government authority over every aspect of our lives, to expand government programs that have been put in place for the emergency of COVID far beyond the emergency of COVID. We’d see taxpayer funding for healthcare for illegal immigrants. We’d see taxpayer funding for abortion. We would see efforts and unfortunately we would probably see success at defunding the police, the elimination of Second Amendment rights, we’d see our national defense cut, we’d see a situation in which the production of fossil fuels would be significantly curtailed moving towards a Green New Deal. We’d see probably the end of the filibuster in the Senate. We’d see efforts to make a D.C. a state. We’d see efforts to expand the size of the Supreme Court and pack it with liberal justices. There’s absolutely no question what’s at this stake in this election and how much worse off this nation would be under a Biden-Schumer-Pelosi regime.
Liz Cheney: (01:22)
It’s also to remember that Vice President Biden, as we all know, is in his basement. Vice President Biden is in his basement partly because he’s concerned about his ability to make it through an interview but also because he doesn’t want to have to talk about his socialist agenda and we have seen consistently over the course of the last several months now since he secured the nomination that he has put together task forces that are co-chaired with Bernie Sanders officials, people who are tied to Bernie Sanders. I think that has never before happened, it’s unprecedented historically.
Liz Cheney: (01:55)
While that is going on, while you’ve got a set of socialist policies that the vice president on one day will say he doesn’t agree with and the next day will say he does, you’ve seen real progress from the House Republicans and also from President Trump on these key issues, issues like holding China accountable, making historic progress on Operation Warp Speed, fundamentally all of the debates and the discussions and the challenges that we’re facing around the pandemic and around the economic devastation of the pandemic require that we develop and manufacture and distribute vaccines and therapeutics, and that is happening at an historic rate under Operation Warp Speed. You’re also seeing us stand up for American freedoms and the security of our communities. You’re seeing us defend the United States, defend law enforcement, fighting for real relief to get America growing again. So all of these things are fundamentally important for people to understand as we look towards the future, and as we look towards what it’s going to take to ensure that the Republicans get the majority back in the House and that the Republicans keep the majority in the Senate and that President Trump is re-elected. These are crucial. So with that, I’d like to turn things over to the Republican leader of the Appropriations Committee, Mrs. Granger.
Kay Granger: (03:10)
Thank you. Thank you for letting us present today. I have four Appropriations bills to talk about briefly. They will be considered on Thursday and Friday of this week. Agriculture, state and foreign operations, interior and environment and military construction and veterans and I’m going to tell you I have serious concerns about all four of those and I will be voting no. We made an agreement, Democrats and Republicans, less than a year ago, we set budget caps into law and we agreed to no poison pills. The Democrats are walking away from that agreement which is very serious. First thing has to do with the agreement that we had on caps and the bill that is being presented has emergency funding of $37.5 billion above the caps. Using the emergency funds to allow funds that were not agreed upon, some of them poison pills and that’s a second problem we have that.
Kay Granger: (04:20)
We also agreed to no poison pills, that means we would work together instead of having something that comes to us that we would have to say no. The poison pills that are in the bill harm national security, they stop the wall on the southern border, and they prevent the president from responding to an emergency transferring funds. That’s a very dangerous situation. It reverses efforts to protect life, allow foreign organizations to get funds even though they perform abortions, and fund the United Nations Population Fund, the UNFPA, even though the UNFPA supports coercive abortions, something we agreed that wouldn’t be in the bills. They threaten energy independence, limiting domestic energy and mineral production, and underfund the request for our conventional energy development. It directs agencies like the EPA to overstep and stops reforms, removes provisions to enhance transparency at the United Nations, something I worked on when I chaired.
Kay Granger: (05:28)
We need bills that meet agreed upon spending lessons and avoid controversial policies. This is the only way to get these bills through the House and the Senate and signed into law and we discussed this at every meeting that we had. These bills were presented to us with little or no input from Republicans. It was top down all the way. Now I yield to Steve Scalise.
Steve Scalise: (05:57)
Thank you Kay. I appreciate your leadership on the House Appropriations Committee. Trying to stand up for the ability for the president to keep us safe and as Kay pointed out, if you look at the appropriations bills that Nancy Pelosi is bringing to the floor this week, it follows a pattern that she’s had as speaker and that is this go it alone my way or the high way approach to everything where she just brings partisan bills to the floor, breaking agreements to work with both sides, and just continuing to limit the president’s ability to keep Americans safe.
Steve Scalise: (06:27)
It boggles the mind when you look at some of the other bills that she’s bringing to the floor this week, and I’ll reference the NO BAN Act, another bill that’s going to be on the floor this week and you think about this. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and President Trump, one of his first actions was to stop flights from coming into China when we found out after the Chinese Communist Party was lying to the United States and the rest of the world and in fact corrupted the World Health Organization to also regurgitate those same lies that it wasn’t spread by human contact, that it wasn’t as big of a deal as it really was, while they were hoarding PPE and other vital supplies, and so when you think about that, President Trump said, “We’re going to stop flights from coming into China.” That saved lives in America. Probably saved thousands of lives in America by President Trump taking that decisive action which ironically he was criticized by people like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi for, but now everyone understands that that helped keep Americans safe.
Steve Scalise: (07:21)
They’re bringing a bill to the floor this week that would block the president’s ability to take that kind of decisive action by passing the NO BAN Act. Again, this is something that would undermine America’s national security. It would make Americans less safe, but Nancy Pelosi wants to go my way or the high way as opposed to working with Republicans, people on both sides, to try to tackle the problems that our country faces. That brings us to another issue, and that is as we work to safely reopen and safely help people get back to their way of life, you’re having this very healthy debate across the country right now about schools and whether or not schools should reopen. I was with Vice President Pence last week and his top coronavirus crisis task force including Dr. Birx where we had a round-table, we had the head of LSU, we had the head of Southern University, the entire Southern system, and we talked about how to safely reopen schools. In fact, they were already planning to reopen our schools and LSU will be reopen, all the Southern university campuses, all of Louisiana’s higher ed institutions will be reopened with students in the classroom using all of the safety protocols.
Steve Scalise: (08:32)
We need to do this in K-12 as well. Our children, there are over 50 million children in America, who are counting on us to get this right, and it would be a cop-out to say it’s too difficult to do. They said it was too difficult to put a man on the moon but they knew it could be done and they went and got it done and look at how much better America is because we rose to that challenge. This is a challenge, but there are many medical experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics who put out very strong guidance for how to safely reopen schools. Again it’s not a question of whether or not you can safely reopen. The guidelines are there of how to do it and now it’s a question, do we have the will to do the work? We owe it to those 50+ million children all across this country who are counting on us to get this right, counting on local governments and local school systems to get this right.
Steve Scalise: (09:23)
In their report, the American Academy of Pediatrics starts talking about a goal of having students physically present, physically present. The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. They go on to talk about the dangers of lengthy time away from school. This results in so many problems to children, and so all of that needs to be part of the discussion. We owe it to our children to safely reopen schools. There’s money still out there. The $150 billion that Congress already spent before anybody talks about spending more money, there’s still money out there. Not one state has spent all of their money. That money can be spent to help schools safely reopen, whether it’s buying sanitizers, buying PPE, masks, other equipment. All of that’s available, but don’t let anybody tell you it’s a trade-off between whether or not to safely reopen. You absolutely can. Very smart medical people including the American Academy of Pediatrics. Again Dr. Birx was at the round-table we had last week and was very clear about how you can safely do it and schools are showing how to safely do it, all of our schools need to meet that challenge.
Steve Scalise: (10:32)
If there’s never been a stronger argument for school choice, it’s this debate we’re having right now. Because if there are school systems that don’t want to safely reopen, but still want to take the hard earned taxpayer dollars of families across America, there are schools that are willing to safely reopen. Shouldn’t the money be able to follow the child? If a parent wants to send their kid to a school that’s safely reopening, instead of sending their tax dollars to a school that won’t safely reopen, I think that needs to be part of the debate. It’s why you should have the choice for parents to send their kids to a school that’s willing to help educate their kids safely in-person. Can be done, it has to be done. These are the kind of debates we ought to be having and working through these issues, not on a Speaker Pelosi my way or the high way partisan approach, but people coming together, working together to get results for the families all across this country who are counting on us. With that, I’m proud to introduce our leader, Kevin McCarthy.
Kevin McCarthy: (11:30)
Thank you Steve, thank you Kay, thank you Liz. This country, America, has preserved through a Civil War, through a Great Depression, through two World Wars and a major terrorist attack. We as the American people have overcome monumental challenges. Our grit and our will to win is what makes our country so unique. This virus will be no different. We will continue to adapt, overcome and make progress to defeat it and rebuild the greatest economy in our lifetime.
Kevin McCarthy: (12:00)
America is looking to the team to make this happen. Our Congressional Republicans are united along with this president and his administration. This leadership team is committed, along with our conference to completely be focused on renewing, restoring and rebuilding this economy. For anyone who questions this administration’s response to this virus, let’s just talk about the facts. 46.5 million tests conducted so far, 4.7 million just in the last week. Operation Warp has developed 14 vaccine candidates that are very, very promising. We’re on track to develop a vaccine faster than ever before in the history of the world. 141 clinical trials already underway for potential therapies, and as we debate the next coronavirus package this team has set up to provide additional targeted relief, people want to know what should be in the next package. There should be tax incentives, just like safe to work tax, the credit to help small businesses stay up afloat and keep going. Back to work bonuses to help incentivize our workforce and create more stability. Liability protection. No one want to see the trial lawyers stop our schools from opening, our small businesses from opening back up and having to close. We think this is important actually for all of the country.
Kevin McCarthy: (13:23)
I know Democrats at times have a hard time standing against the trial lawyers, just as they did when we needed more masks, we had to wait till our second COVID bill to help 3M deliver more masks to the American public. We hope we don’t have to wait to deliver liability protection to the schools and small businesses throughout this country. Childcare relief. Our families need safe, reliable childcare for their children. The question should not be if, it should be how schools and childcare should open. They should protect the students, they should protect the teachers, and it’s not one size fits all. In areas that can, yes they should, but they should have the protection, and that’s something that we should be working on.
Kevin McCarthy: (14:04)
That means members should be here working. Members shouldn’t be sitting on a boat in Arizona and calling in their votes. They should be having debates, we should be having ideas, we should be having discussions. Yes we may disagree, but let’s make the very best idea move forward. That’s very difficult if you’re sitting on a boat in Arizona when a committee is going forward and you just put on your iPhone in a moment of time to vote. I’m not sure you’re participating that much, but you’re still getting your paycheck, which I think is also wrong.
Kevin McCarthy: (14:36)
One of the greatest threats we see right now is China. The Democrats have a serious problem when it comes to the Chinese Communist Party. They’re unwilling to stand up and hold them accountable. As many of you know, I’ve worked more than a year to try to get a bipartisan committee, long before COVID ever arose, long before the Chinese Communist Party lied to the entire world about COVID, but really what could set the strategy for America in the next century. It took me eight months to get an agreement by the Democrats and when we finally were about to announce, they backed away. COVID has now come on stage where it killed thousands of Americans and thousands across this world, but the Democrats refuse to bring anything up about them.
Kevin McCarthy: (15:23)
The Senate has actually passed bills holding China accountable, not just for COVID but for other things they have done to our country. For some reason those bills get stuck on the speaker’s desk. I am not sure what the Communist Party has on the Democrats, but for some reason it seems to be very powerful because they are very silent. Will they still be silent, today I introduced a bill to defend COVID research from hacker acts. So far we have learned that Iran, Russia and China has been trying to hack in to our companies. Instead of working with us to solve a virus that they created, they want to hack in and try to find the vaccine. Would they use the vaccine if they were able to hack into it the same way they use PPE? Blackmailing to other countries to get [inaudible 00:16:12] into them? Or would they be like America, that would share it with the rest of the world?
Kevin McCarthy: (16:21)
Well lo and behold, what did we find today? Today we learned that there are more Chinese hackers accused of stealing millions of dollars worth of trade secrets and organizations involved in the COVID vaccine research. All that does is slow down the research. Will the Democrats once again be afraid to hold China accountable for this? How many more people are going to have to die before the Democrats realize that we need to work as one? That this goes beyond COVID, what the Chinese have done?
Kevin McCarthy: (16:52)
America needs one strategy to make sure our children can compete in the next century. It seems as though China doesn’t want a level playing field. They are more than willing to stop their own flights in their own country but let international flights go, lying to their own citizens and lying to the rest of the world. Well the Democrats should stop lying to America and hold China accountable. Those bills that sit on the speaker’s desk for months should be able to move forward. To hold China accountable, yes we should, but we should also build America stronger, bigger than we’ve ever before so we can compete for the next century. With that, I’ll take your questions. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 5: (17:37)
I actually have a question for Ms. Cheney, Congresswoman Cheney if you don’t mind.
Liz Cheney: (17:47)
[inaudible 00:17:47] Open Skies amendment? I mean, I knew that.
Speaker 5: (17:52)
I’m just wondering, do you think that the nation still needs Dr. Fauci’s expertise?
Liz Cheney: (17:57)
Absolutely, and I think you’ve seen that the president believes that as well. Dr. Fauci is an active participant in the taskforce. Dr. Fauci is somebody that I’ve known for many years and I think has just contributed in ways that few others I can think of, particularly from the perspective of public health, to the nation, and I think at this moment when we’re trying to find every way we can to defeat the virus, when we’re trying to find therapeutics and vaccines, we need all hands on deck and I can’t imagine anybody better than Dr. Fauci to continue to play that role.
Speaker 5: (18:34)
Donald Trump Jr. Is calling you to step down from your role as conference chair. What’s your response?
Liz Cheney: (18:41)
Well Donald Trump Jr. is not a member of the House Republican Conference, and I take my position in leadership very seriously. I take the oath that I swore to the Constitution very seriously as I know all of us do who are elected officials and I think that we have a situation in many cases where in our conference we can have a healthy exchange of views. Unfortunately you don’t see that as much in the Democratic Caucus, but I think we’re facing really important issues as a nation. We’re facing issues where people’s lives are at stake and I think the beauty of our system and frankly the magnificence of this country and one of the things that the founders fought for and that so many throughout history have died for is our freedom of speech, is the right for all of us to have this kind of healthy exchange and debate.
Liz Cheney: (19:35)
I think about the National Defense Authorization Act that we are in the process right now of debating and debating amendments and every time that I walk onto the floor of the House, I know every time my colleagues walk onto the floor of the House, we certainly remember that we are there, that we are able to cast our votes, that we are able to have the debates we have about the issues that matter to this country because of our men and women in uniform who have sacrificed so much for us and that we owe to them acting worthy of them. We owe to them doing what we believe is right, doing what we believe is right for this country. That’s something that I will always do and I know my colleagues will as well and I am honored to serve as the House Republican Conference Chair and particularly honored to serve the people of Wyoming. Thanks.
Kevin McCarthy: (20:28)
I just re-emphasize, we’re honored to have her as Conference Chair. She does an amazing job. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 6: (20:33)
Just a quick follow-up to Congresswoman Cheney. Obviously some of the questions that were brought to you during the conference meeting today had to do with primaries and this was brought upon by Thomas Massie’s primary where you and a few others were supporting his primary opponent. Obviously that was pulled later on, but still, going forward, are we going to see leadership support primary opponents of rank and file members? This is something that has been a concern of rank and file members, and I understand this has sort of been boiling up a bit.
Liz Cheney: (21:16)
Congressman Massie and I actually had a great conversation after our meeting and I do, I respect Congressman Massie’s principle and I think that it is an important thing for us to think through what it means to each one of us to serve. I think that we also, I know Congressman Massie and I and I would say the vast majority of my colleagues, I don’t want to speak for everybody but we are united, it’s one of the reasons why I started conference this morning the way I did, why I read for you all that list at the beginning today of what is at stake in this election and why it’s so important for us to make sure that we keep the Senate, that we take back the majority in the House, and that we make sure that President Trump is re-elected. Those are crucial issues. The debates and the discussions that we have reflect how high the stakes are and how grave these issues are, and I think that they’re important and I think they’re healthy for our conference and so I welcome that and I have a lot of respect for Congressman Massie, I understand why he did what he did and I look forward to serving with him and serving with a lot more Republicans when we take back the House.
Speaker 7: (22:28)
Thank you sir. One of your members had kind of a nasty confrontation with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez earlier. I wanted to know what you expect, what kind of behavior you expect from your members and if you’re planning on doing anything about the confrontation?
Kevin McCarthy: (22:42)
I understand who you’re referring to. I don’t know of the confrontation, I just read about it in the paper. Actually after this meeting, that individual and I are going to meet. We think everybody should show respect to one another and not knowing what took place I will have a discussion with him to see what happened. All right?
Speaker 7: (22:59)
Another question. About the GOP convention, a number of senators now have said that they’re not planning on going, there have been some kind of anonymous reports from House Republicans saying that they don’t think that anybody is really going to be there in person. What do you expect from the convention later in August –
Kevin McCarthy: (23:15)
I think it will be a different convention than we’ve had in the past, especially since we’re dealing with COVID but we’ll take every precaution to make sure the safety of individuals, I think there will be testing, there will be definitely safe spacing. It will probably be more condensed, there are fewer people being allowed inside but we’ll make sure every precaution is taken and we’ll deal with it day by day as we go, but I’ll be there. Yes.
Speaker 8: (23:39)
On coronavirus testing, the administration has been pushing to zero out testing money in the coronavirus legislation, Senate Republicans have pushed back on that. Do you think there should be more money for testing in this bill?
Kevin McCarthy: (23:50)
If we need more money I think we’d need more money, yes. We put a great deal of amount of money in the last one, about $25 billion if I’m going off the top of my head correctly. I don’t have the latest update but remember when Republicans were in the majority, we were the party that increased the funding by more than 40% to the National Institute of Health and the CDC. Yes, I would be one who would say we need more money for testing.
Speaker 8: (24:14)
Most Americans, it’s still taking up to a week to get their test results back. How can we expect the country to open if those testing times don’t go down?
Kevin McCarthy: (24:24)
Yeah. One thing I will tell you, the one thing that was invented during this time was the rapid tests as well, so you can get tests as fast as 45 minutes, you could get it even at 15 minutes in others. These are new devices developed by Abbott and other companies that we’re finding new ability, we’re now having blood tests and others being able to draw in quicker. I think with all of that, the ingenuity, we’ll get past this. I mean just as I said, you could compare us to any other country. We’re talking more than 46 million tests, 4.7 million just in the last week. No other country can do that and we want to be able to expand more testing but I think the key part here and really when we look back, when it comes to a vaccine, are therapeutics to be able to move forward.
Kevin McCarthy: (25:05)
History will write about how fast that took place, that we did something never done before, and that was the early investment. That was the Operation Warp Speed, that was BARDA and the others. Because it won’t just … The time that it takes to develop a vaccine, but the ability to have the dosage ready, that we are already making that investment, where we would have 100 million of those dosages if they come back. I think next week you’ll have some very interesting announcements in a short time coming into the final phases in others, which is a great contribution to the rest of the world and I think the biggest compliment is these countries that are trying to hack us. Even the country that created the virus is trying to hack us and hack into these companies over the vaccine. I think we are being focused, we have spent trillions of dollars but if we need more money for testing, we should provide it. I think that is something that we will debate.
Kevin McCarthy: (25:56)
That’s why it’s very important and vital that Congress actually meets. It’s very important that members actually come to their job, even though they’re still being paid. I know that we watched the Democrats change 244 years of history, that members no longer have to come to Washington to work, that they’re no longer essential, that more than 70 Democrats in that very first time to come back which we were walking about a COVID package that they tried to brag about, did not show up, that they signed letters that they were physically unable to be here. Lo and behold we found them at other events, driving for hours to attend. I don’t think that behavior is correct and I don’t think that is something that will solve this problem. Only working together as one, as one Congress, as one nation, we will rise to the occasion just as we’ve done every other challenge this country has faced, and that’s why I believe we will get this done and I believe whatever needs to take place we will make it happen. So thank you very much. Appreciate it.