Jul 22, 2021
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Press Conference Transcript July 22
House Minority Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy held a press conference July 22, 2021. Read the full transcript of the briefing here.
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Kevin McCarthy: (00:00)
Wish you a happy birthday to a guy at the back of the room, Caleb Smith, happy birthday. He’s a good man. As lawmakers, we are here to serve people. Our main mission is to work on issues that will positively impact the constituents we are sent to serve in Washington. To do that effectively, we need to engage directly with the American people to get a sense of their major concerns and what’s happening in their day-to-day lives, and how we can make it better. Over the past week I set out just to do that because Democrats’ reckless spending has led to inflation, I’ve asked American people to send me their stories about the soaring inflation, about how does it personally affect them and their families? The stories that I’ve heard are just devastating. There’s a few here I’d like to bring up.
Kevin McCarthy: (00:53)
First, Chuck from Arkansas. He writes, I’m on a fixed income. I’m retired from the state police and the National Guard. My everyday expenses are up, my small amount of money is worth less. For example, I just bought gas for my truck, last year it cost $35 to fill up, this time it cost $92. How many of us across America have actually felt that as they fill their cars up? Katrina from Idaho, gas is $3 and 78 cents a gallon, milk is almost $3 a gallon. We have cut spending at the grocery store a bunch since prices have gone up, no extra outings or eating out. Home improvements are on hold till prices come down. Mike, a lead pastor at the church, my wife and I can’t do as much as we used to do for others, so we’re not liking that. We’re on a fixed income and working on building a church congregation from scratch. We are seeing many who are going without food, medication, et cetera, so we’re taking food to them to hopefully make their lives easier.
Kevin McCarthy: (02:06)
Inflation is destroying America’s ability to strengthen their financial security. As I watched a clip from the President’s town hall last night, I couldn’t see a person more out of touch. A small business owner struggle to survive through the pandemic, he’s got government now competing with him, paying higher unemployment at an extra $15 an hour where he can’t bring people back to work. And what’s the President’s answers? Just pay more. I wish the President understood what it was like to own a small business. For all the small business owners, they’re the first to work, last to leave and last to be paid. What they just went through in the pandemic, so many of them did not make it. They shut down and all their investment is gone. They’re trying to survive today and that’s the response they get. Price is going up.
Kevin McCarthy: (03:05)
Now this is not just Republicans sounding the alarm on inflation. Larry Summers who served as treasury secretary for President Clinton and chief economic advisor for Obama, Biden administration, has been warning since February that Biden’s big spending agenda would lead to inflation. Unfortunately Larry was right, and last week Biden’s own treasury secretary, Janet, acknowledged that Americans have to brace for several more months of rapid inflation, so it’s just not the three stories we told. There’s not hope we can tell them. The White House tells them, the treasury secretary, “Prepare for more, eat less, drive less.”
Kevin McCarthy: (03:49)
This week the President, in his choice words, that prices are now up. And what has he proposed? More spending. Not working together, not finding that you can put an infrastructure bill together to build more roads for less, but it has to have Bernie Sanders’ approach of 3 trillion and a half dollars. If the President won’t listen to us, the President won’t listen to his own economic advisors back when he was vice-president, I don’t know who he’ll listen to, but America deserves more. Republicans will continue to work to bring inflation down, secure our borders, to stop crime in the streets. Because unfortunately, since Democrats have taken the majority, they took the majority in the House, the first thing they did was defund the police.
Kevin McCarthy: (04:45)
I watch in my own home state, people just walk into stores and walk out without paying. I watch stores, big name brands like Target, just have to close down because they can’t survive in a big city like San Francisco. We watch crime continue to rise where we see young kids walking the streets of New York being tackled, as one person’s running from another being shot. Or in Chicago where they defunded the police, where a man and woman are pulled from their car and shot on the street, dead. Watch our border wide open with the new policies of this administration. Where fentanyl has increased by more than 300%, it goes to every single city in America and adds to the deaths of our youth and others. It is time to stop that, to make sure the next century for America could be theirs. With that, let’s open it up for questions. You know, we wrote your question down.
Speaker 2: (05:50)
Kevin McCarthy: (05:51)
Should I answer it before you ask it? Well go ahead.
Speaker 2: (05:54)
In your view, what is so wrong with having Liz Cheney and potentially Adam Kinzinger serve on the select committee? Potentially they could provide some level of ideological balance to this committee, what is wrong with having one or two members of your [inaudible 00:06:09] joining with Democrats? That’s basically what happened here.
Kevin McCarthy: (06:12)
You know it, and we predicted it back at the very beginning. This is a sham committee that’s just politically driven by Speaker Pelosi. When we proposed to do a commission back in January, she said, no, she just wanted to make it political. When we responded back to her, she waited 10 weeks to say anything else. I don’t think anybody in America, I think even your viewers understand what a sham this committee is and how politically driven. For her to pick and choose who can serve on, to say that the ranking member of judiciary who would have jurisdiction, cannot serve. When she decides that Jim Banks who served his nation in the Navy in Afghanistan, that he can’t serve here. When she selects a chair of the committee that believes Republican senators are equal to terrorists, just dropped a lawsuit against the President and objected to the electors when it came to the election of George Bush, I think even you would understand that. Yes, sir?
Speaker 3: (07:11)
Will you punish them in any way?
Kevin McCarthy: (07:12)
Speaker 4: (07:13)
Could we talk about infrastructure for a second? I mean, how do you view the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill? Have you been briefed in the details by [crosstalk 00:07:20]?
Kevin McCarthy: (07:20)
They continue to move. I haven’t seen all the details. I would say, first of all, I’d like the idea of people working together and having an infrastructure bill. I think if there’s one thing we should be able to do, it’s infrastructure. I laid out to the President what I thought a bipartisan infrastructure bill would look like. The first thing you’d have to do is agree on what infrastructure means, roads, bridges, highways, broadband and airports. I think we would then look at the need of the nation. We’d want to make sure we could make some reforms with NEPA and others so you wouldn’t wait a decade to build these, so your money would go further, and I think we could find compromise there.
Kevin McCarthy: (07:55)
The most difficult part is at that moment in time when they did get an agreement, the President said there was an agreement, but in the same day he said, “No, I still need the other 3 trillion.” You just listened to the stories. Since this new administration and democratic majority, they propose a bill with a nice title, but it has nothing to do with it. We watched what they did back at the beginning of the year when they called it a COVID bill with less than 9% going to it, but now we have inflation. I would like the idea of a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Speaker 4: (08:27)
There is one, so do you have any view? [crosstalk 00:08:31]
Kevin McCarthy: (08:30)
No, even they tell you they can’t vote on it yet because they don’t have one. I think it matters in the details. I think a trillion dollars is a lot of money so I’d like to see the details, but in the concept of a structure of putting one together, I’d like to do that. Yes ma’am?
Speaker 5: (08:44)
[crosstalk 00:08:44] as far [inaudible 00:08:46] a few weeks ago, you said that, “I don’t know in history where someone would go get the committee assignments and speaker and expect for them to have them in the conference as well.” Where are you right now as far as [crosstalk 00:08:58]-
Kevin McCarthy: (08:57)
I’m right here.
Speaker 5: (08:58)
… as far as the committee assignments are concerned with Cheney and potentially Adam Kinzinger? Should they be stripped of their committee assignments, and have any members come to you asking that [inaudible 00:09:08] Cheney in this case, to have her be stripped of her committee assignments, as of now?
Kevin McCarthy: (09:14)
Look, our main focus is making sure that we stop the runaway inflation the Democrats have caused. [crosstalk 00:09:19] The idea of securing our borders, of making sure the crime that is rising in California, throughout the entire nation because of defunding the police, that we stop all that. I understand from a standpoint that others could be busy on other things. I think it’s a conference decision, the conference will look at it.
Speaker 6: (09:37)
Kevin McCarthy: (09:38)
Speaker 6: (09:38)
[inaudible 00:09:38] you got your vaccine at the end of last year and have been a proponent of them. In recent days and weeks, we’ve seen more Republicans advocate for people to get vaccines. Why the shift in tone?
Kevin McCarthy: (09:51)
I don’t understand how I shifted my tone. I’ve been-
Speaker 6: (09:54)
Not your tone, I’m saying we’ve seen more Republicans come out advocating for a vaccine, so I’m saying just generally in terms of your party, why that shift in tone?
Kevin McCarthy: (10:02)
Well, I disagree with the nature because I don’t think we shifted in our tone. I mean, the Republicans advocated for Operation Warp Speed, we funded it. We looked from it. When I sat back and I watched the then Senator of California criticize and question whether they should get a vaccine as she was running for vice president, or I watched the number of Democrats in the House go to the microphones and criticize for Operation Warp Speed and with the vaccines. Think about what we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time, where even [Dr. Fauci 00:10:35] said it was impossible to do that quickly. And the idea that we could have not one, but more, more than three vaccines out there. The investment we made, I think many times people will study that, the number of lives we were able to save after this virus has come from a foreign land.
Kevin McCarthy: (10:56)
I think Republicans will go down from a perspective of looking forward and saving a lot of lives, and I don’t think we’ve changed from that position at all. Maybe at times through media and people are just now hearing it, but it wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that leadership. [crosstalk 00:11:10] And President Trump deserves a lot of credit for that. I know when President Biden… I know he got the vaccine before he was sworn in and somehow he thought he created it, but his own vice-president criticized it, which was not good for the American public. Which was real concerning to all of us that people would sit there and criticize something that could save a lot of lives.
Kevin McCarthy: (11:32)
Speaker 8: (11:34)
On vaccines again, there was a meeting or an event with some GOP members earlier this morning, advocating their constituents to take the vaccine. Should House members, Republican and Democrat, be putting out statements, doing events to show that this isn’t a partisan issue?
Kevin McCarthy: (11:53)
Think when members first got the vaccine, that’s what they were doing and showing. I mean, I believe that’s continuing to be going forward. More information should be provided because at this moment in time, I think anyone that wants a vaccine should be able to get it. But I think the aspect to it, many times, if people have questions about it, let’s answer the questions. Let’s not say, “Oh, you can’t put any information out.” I think what would really have people have greater trust, provide all the science, provide all the information instead of trying to withhold something, that would bring somebody more doubt. I think that’s the wrong approach, and I think at times we hear that from the White House, and that’s just wrong.
Kevin McCarthy: (12:35)
Speaker 9: (12:36)
[inaudible 00:12:36], we’ve seen the Senate hold individual hearings on January 6th, but given that what was supposed to be the authoritative investigation on it is now fractured, can you confidently say for the public that Americans are going to get a comprehensive and honest accounting of what happened that day?
Kevin McCarthy: (12:54)
I would hope so. I thought, from what the speaker has done, that puts a great deal of doubt in it. I mean at no time in the history of a select committee in America… and I checked with a historian… has what Speaker Pelosi done, ever happened before. The idea that she’s going to pick and choose, you’re not going to get an outcome. I mean, she’s picking and choosing and she put a chairman on that objected to the election of George Bush. She put a chairman on this committee that just had to now pull back on his lawsuit against President Trump. And she questions having Jim Banks, a Naval officer who served in Afghanistan, that somehow she predetermines.
Kevin McCarthy: (13:45)
I mean, it doesn’t matter today what she does with that committee because it’s not going to change the outcome of what seems like a predetermined or already written report. At the same time that she played politics with us for six months, the Senate acted, the FBI has investigated and the Architect of the Capitol has $10 million. What it really comes down to is there’s two questions, why were we so ill prepared? If you read the Senate report, you know they knew at December 14th. Why were we so ill prepared? Second is you got to make sure it never happens or has the ability to happen again. In that meantime, since that January, we have lost Officer Evans on Good Friday. From a driven individual that could be politically motivated, I think everything should be looked at.
Kevin McCarthy: (14:46)
Speaker 10: (14:46)
[crosstalk 00:14:46] Leader McConnell has said that in an interview that he thinks Democrats are going to need to go this alone, Republicans won’t vote for it and Democrats should fold it into their reconciliation bill. What’s your position on the debt ceiling? How would you like to see the issue dealt with? And do you think Democrats could put it in reconciliation and vote for it themselves because Republicans [inaudible 00:15:05]?
Kevin McCarthy: (15:05)
No, I think Democrats should put in reforms. The idea they want to do… You’ve got inflation caused by their spending. They have warning from their own Democrats, warning from their own economic advisers, if they go forward with this, they will get inflation. They went forward with it, they got inflation. Inflation is a tax on every single American. You just listened from the first story of a retired police officer and National Guard in Arkansas, that just last year he paid $35 to fill up his truck, today it’s $92. Or that mom who says they can’t eat out anymore. This is the effects of their action.
Kevin McCarthy: (15:51)
And what do they take from that? To propose to go spend another 3.5 trillion? I can’t think of one Republican that wants to vote to allow them to do that, so they should think long and hard about what they propose to do and with the debt ceiling coming. And I think for all Americans, they should listen to America of the damage that they’re causing, not just in the crimes in the streets because they defunded police, not just the drugs that are coming into America because they opened up the borders. And it’s not just drugs, they are catching terrorists on the watch list. These are not the senators on the other side that they believe are terrorists, these are actual terrorists from Yemen that are on the watch list that are coming across this border.
Kevin McCarthy: (16:38)
There’s inflation rising that we haven’t seen in more than a decade, that is a tax on every American. So when it comes to a debt ceiling, they should take it very serious, think long and hard, and they ought to stop digging the hole that they are creating for America, and change course. Thank you very much. Have a good weekend.