May 4, 2021
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Press Conference Transcript Georgia May 4
House Minority Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy held a press conference in Cobb County, Georgia on May 4, 2021. He discussed the effects of the MLB All-Star game being moved out of Georgia. Read the full transcript of the briefing here.
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… but that wasn’t across the board to a lot of our businesses, still a lot in the hospitality industry was struggling. The week before Major League Baseball announced their ill-informed decision, I was meeting with several businesses in Cobb county. I have a district office at the Galleria down near Truist Park, and the excitement among those businesses were, “Look, we struggled. We made it through the COVID pandemic. A lot of it because of PPP. This Major League Baseball game is going to be the turning point for us to be able to get back on our feet again.” And the question was, “Do you think Major League Baseball will pull?” Because we had started hearing rumors and the decision was, “No. Major League Baseball usually stays apolitical.” And they were scared this would happen, and then it did. And it’s devastated a lot of businesses.
Look, America was built upon hard work. All of our successes have been because of hard work. Small businesses rely on people willing to do the hard work. I’ve spent this last week with a lot of small businesses. I decided, “Let me just go out and work side-by-side with some of these folks.” I spent some time with a construction company. I went to a lot of rural businesses. They are struggling. And let me tell you why they’re struggling. Because they feel they’re proud of their country, but they’re afraid of their government right now. Because as one told me, he said, “Look, I’ve got the potential of more business than I can handle. I just can’t get people to come to work.” And I asked him “Why?” He said, “Because I can’t compete with a federal government who will pay somebody more to stay at home then I can afford to pay them to come and earn a living.”
The people feel like they’re at war, not only with their own government, but big corporations are trying to kill them as well. And this is what we have to address. We have to realize that it’s the small business that makes America work. The big businesses would not be there if it wasn’t for the small business. And as we mentioned, Vinings Bank, some of the representatives from Vinings Bank are here with us today because of their involvement in the community as a small business. And their hard work, they actually issued more PPP loans during that first rollout than Wells Fargo did nationwide. It’s because of the hard work of them being in touch with the community. This is what the impact of Major League Baseball has had on the small business owner. It’s not the big businesses hurting from it. It’s the small guy.
Kevin McCarthy: (02:32)
Thank you, Barry. I was excited about being able to come here, to listen to small business but more importantly, to come here to eat. I hope you all had a little opportunity to eat. There’s no such thing as Gus having a small plate, I’ve never seen these size of plate. But when you sit and talk to Gus, this isn’t his only restaurant, all of them have opened back up but one, but you ask them about the struggle 27 years right here, and he’ll tell you for the first four, it did not make it. Which tells us why if we’re going to keep going, we’re going to get through it, until that moment that he’s able to take off.
Kevin McCarthy: (03:07)
COVID comes and they get shut down. You know what he does? He builds a drive-thru, not once, but twice. They never shut down 24 hours a day, to keep people employed, to keep things moving. What does he do when he opens that drive-thru for the first time? Offers free food because he wants the community to be able to be together. That’s the spirit that you see in an entrepreneur. That’s a spirit that you see that would take that risk.
Kevin McCarthy: (03:35)
But what has happened to him and the rest of Georgia when you wipe away an All Star Game that you plan for, the number of employees that he works, and there’s times you come here at three in the morning you’re making an order, Gus is either taking the order or making the food. This is his family. This is his establishment. But everybody who works for him is part of the family. Let’s bring Gus up to say a few words as well.
Kevin McCarthy: (03:59)
I want to thank everybody for coming today for sure. I’d like to say, of course, everybody in the hospitality restaurant business is highly disappointed that we lost the All Star Game. That’s the obvious. We looked forward to it, it’s been a roller coaster. Everybody in the restaurant business has been through this ups and downs, and we were looking forward to it. We had the NBA All Star Game, we we’re excited about that. I’m also a sports fan, so that makes it a little bit more personal to me. I was looking forward to it right down the road. Cobb County built a beautiful stadium. It’s not only the stadium, but the restaurants, the hotels, the sports bars around it. We’re looking forward to hosting that beautiful event.
Nevertheless, it didn’t happen. We need to move on. Hopefully the Braves keep winning and maybe we have some playoff games that we can… I was preparing a menu with the chef for the All Star Game, so we might have to make it a playoff menu, but I want to make sure everybody understands that in life we can’t all agree on everything because life would be boring if we all agreed. So anytime there’s any discrepancies or differences of opinions, the best thing to do is try to negotiate, compromise, figure out a solution without something so drastic. It’s not the end of the world. Like I said, we’re going to move on, we’ve been through worse, but it’s just a little bit of heartfelt, hurts a little bit because it was going to be a fun week. But best way to ever figure out or reconcile differences is sit down and come up with a better solution next time. That’s my opinion. I want to thank everybody for coming again. I appreciate it. Thank you.
Kevin McCarthy: (05:56)
Any disagreement we have in this country, I think if a few sides would sit down, have dinner, maybe bring one of your mom’s pies out, I’m sure by the end we’d all be together. We’d be back there.
Kevin McCarthy: (06:08)
I spent the morning going through Brent Browns business, security company, started when he was young, I think he was just 26 years old. He took a risk. Now he has 1800 employees. A lot of planning was going involved for all the security that would take place from other events and others that were happening at that All Star Game. Unfortunately, that’s not taking place. But Brent continues to keep his employees on. As I went through that to meet him, number of the young employees start as an intern and just been hired working there for seven, 10, 20 years. That’s the difference that it could make and he’s committed to continue to work forward, even though he’s going to miss out on all the resources and the planning of what they’re going to have.
Kevin McCarthy: (06:50)
So let me bring up Brent Brown with Brown International Security.
Brent Brown: (06:56)
I’m Brent Brown. I’m a founder of Chesley Brown International, and it was my pleasure to have you all visit this morning, not just speaking as Congressman, but as fellow entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs always figure out ways to deal with the challenges, and you don’t build a company over the last 30 years without those challenges.
Brent Brown: (07:18)
But this is one after another. We’re dealing with COVID, we’re obviously first responders so we never sent anybody home. Then we start competing with the federal government to pay more to keep people at home. So recruiting goes through the roof, cost to people go through the roof, and frankly, the first line of defense there’s not enough people that are willing to pay the difference to do that. And now we get the challenge of Major League Baseball taking another opportunity away from not just the business people and the entrepreneurs, but the hardworking men and women, they’re affected just as much as we are, actually more so. We can survive this, but this is hourly wage people that they can’t. They can’t afford to not have a job. They can’t afford to lose out.
Brent Brown: (08:13)
So as we started to see recovery, this is one more thing that we just have to work against. So it’s my pleasure to have you guys and thank you for listening to us. Thank you so much.
Kevin McCarthy: (08:28)
Thank you. I had the honor of sitting with Sandra Cook. She owns a Catered Southern Events, the number of events that she had. She’s the one who told me the story, just gone to the bank to borrow money to get that food truck, and how that would have done so well during that All Star Game. COVID hits. You know what she does? She doesn’t buy that feed truck, but she uses that money to keep her employees going. She’s still making that payment. That’s the heart. Those are the faces that got hurt by an uninformed decision. I’m going to bring up Sandra Cook.
Sandra Cook: (09:07)
Good afternoon. I’m Sandra Cook, owner of Catered Southern Events. Yes, it is true. The COVID hit and we lost a hundred thousand dollars within probably eight months of the COVID. Yes, I borrowed money to buy a food truck and my employees got paid, but there’s still no food truck and I’m still paying off the loan. I had already talked to an hotel about catering for the teams coming in, and all of the parents and kids, and that went on the wayside. And so it’s just really a sad situation that you get slapped in the face again, and thinking that you’re coming out of something, and we will get that food truck one day, and so we’ll be able to take home anything else that comes our way. So thank you very much. And I’m so thankful that these guys behind me are listening to what this small community owners and just, they’re listening to us finally. And I’m going to speak for my friends that are caterers, these restaurants, and sadly, the things that had to close, they’re all affected by what has gone on and now this. So thank you.
Kevin McCarthy: (10:50)
And Gus I will say, Sandra said it was nice to have somebody cook for her for a change so and she loved the food. Next I want to bring up Mitch Rhoden. He’s got a family business that his father started, he had to adapt in the middle of COVID. He had to shut down one of the businesses, almost reinvent, but he was able to succeed and able to move forward. That’s what you get from entrepreneurs, whatever struggles put before them. What they would really want to see is people in government that are willing to listen, to knockdown and break away the shackles that are holding them back. And that’s what this today’s lunch was about. Let me bring Mitch up.
I’m Mitch Rhoden and my pleasure to be here today. I appreciate the opportunity that’s been afforded to us to talk about these issues and to reiterate what the others have said. And it really is to put a face on the reality of decisions like this, which impact small businesses and businesses that you never hear about, not Coca-Cola or Delta or big businesses, but small businesses, which really make up the fabric of our community.
And those businesses are made up of individuals, of families, husbands and wives and children, and those are the people who are impacted by decisions like this. And it’s just really frustrating, as we talked about, given all of the things that we’ve all dealt with in our own way from COVID and other things, to have another situation that really came out of left field to adversely impact everybody in this space. So I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you today. I appreciate our elected officials who have created this forum and I hope that everybody in the small business community can get back to normal and not have to deal with factors like this as we move forward. Thank you very much.
Kevin McCarthy: (12:47)
Thank you Mitch. I want to thank all of the businesses who turned out to tell us their stories, talk about the struggles, the ways that we can find solutions to help it move forward. We were very hopeful that come the summer with the All Star Game it was going to be the kickstart to really bring back for that money and the resources lost, the struggles that they had to put in.
Kevin McCarthy: (13:08)
During COVID not only had the shutdown, but they put money back into their businesses, building drive-thrus and others, borrowing to buy a food truck they can’t have but paying it to the employees. I wish Major League Baseball would look at the faces. I wish this administration would come here and listen to these voices because they encouraged the team to leave. They encouraged the game to be played somewhere else. This isn’t a partisan issue. This is about America. This is about small businesses. It’s about survival and coming back because we believe this is the greatest nation on earth, and we understand that small business is the backbone that brings the jobs forward, and these entrepreneurs who take the risk are the ones that make it happen generation after generation. With that, let’s take some questions.
Kevin McCarthy: (14:00)
Speaker 7: (14:02)
The republican legislature passed as B202 that the Major League Baseball was protesting against, why is it that Joe Biden call that they’re protesting a bill that the Republicans passed when I know you all support business being able to make choices freely?
Kevin McCarthy: (14:22)
Well I think the president and his encouragement without reading the bill, many times he misstated what was in the bill itself. Even from his own home state to what is allowed to happen here in Georgia, the number of days to vote, the openness and the process, I think that was misinformation. Which encouraged the Major League Baseball to make an uninformed decision to move a game based upon information that wasn’t true, that was not in the bill itself. And when you really looked at and you want help minority owned small businesses, you’ve got a much larger population of that right here in Georgia than anywhere else, and especially from where they moved it to.
Kevin McCarthy: (15:03)
Speaker 8: (15:05)
So what’s next? What do you do from here to help these businesses or are you hoping that Major League Baseball might change their mind?
Kevin McCarthy: (15:12)
Well I wish Major League Baseball would learn the lesson from this to not make a rash decision, to make informed decisions, to read the bills before they make judgment. This movement in this country about wokeness has got to stop. We can disagree on things, but let’s base it upon facts.
Kevin McCarthy: (15:28)
What I really want to have happened here is not the people who have been hurt, the small businesses, but more importantly, every single one that stood up here, the entrepreneur that risked everything, they would tell you it wasn’t about them. They’re more concerned about their employees. How do they help them? They put a lot of plans, they put a lot of investment into that week. And for a lot of people to get an All Star Game, that’s Christmas for their business, that helps them go on to other months. I think Major League Baseball should find a way to make it up to this community because they made an uninformed decision and they harmed a lot of people who are out of work and could’ve made overtime, could have been able to make investments that they were missing, especially after COVID.
Speaker 9: (16:12)
How much do you think, it’s been suggested [Stacey Abrams 00:16:16] [inaudible 00:16:17] online to move the ball game out of Georgia? Do you believe he was behind it [crosstalk 00:16:22]?
Kevin McCarthy: (16:22)
I’m not from Georgia. I’d let one of these announce that there, but I would think regardless of where you are in a party you would be excited about celebrating your state. You would be excited about showing off. Baseball, they don’t come out and show how they’re registered to vote, they came out to play ball, America’s pastime. And that’s an excitement to be here, to be able to achieve the right to have the all-star game. And it’s not just one night, it’s the Home Run Derby. It’s the people who come from across the nation to be able to see this state, to walk into diners such as this, to go and see your arts and your other communities that are here. That is a success for the entire state. That is why people would like to have it. So I would hope nobody in Georgia would have encouraged them to leave. I think that would be the wrong approach.
Speaker 10: (17:08)
Representative Ferguson, there were thousands of Delta employees that live in your district. Are they a big business that you think has done bad and you wish them ill?
Representative Ferguson: (17:17)
No. We stand with the Delta employees. I happened to represent more Delta employees and their families than any other member of Congress, and we’re standing with them. We’ve had many of them come to us and say, “Thank you for being our voice. We are afraid to speak up. We’re afraid for our jobs and we’re afraid of the hostile work environment that’s been created there.” So no, we stand with it. I get on a Delta flight every week to go back and forth to DC. It’s not wrong to punish the men and women of Delta because their CEO lost his moral compass on this issue.
Kevin McCarthy: (17:56)
Speaker 12: (17:56)
Would you call for a vote for the removal of [Ms. Cheney 00:17:56] from your leadership team?
Kevin McCarthy: (17:56)
The conference decides on that. We’re here talking about small business, and we’re talking about solutions, ways that we can help America continue to grow. I started my first small business when I was 20, I know what the struggle is. I know what it’s like to try to make payroll, to get more sales, and that’s what we’re here to do.
Speaker 13: (18:14)
Kevin McCarthy: (18:14)
Speaker 13: (18:19)
Governor [inaudible 00:18:20] stood against President Trump and his efforts to overturn the election. The president is very upset about that. Is there no republican party for [inaudible 00:18:28] Cheney and [inaudible 00:18:29] who have not supported the president on that but do support [crosstalk 00:18:33]?
Kevin McCarthy: (18:33)
I’ve answered this question many times. The Republican party is a big tent, we welcome everybody.
Speaker 14: (18:36)
Thank you very much everybody.
Kevin McCarthy: (18:37)
Thank you all. Have a good day. And be sure to get some cake or pie on the way out.