Jul 30, 2020
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Press Conference Transcript July 30
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy held a press conference on July 30. He spoke about rapid COVID-19 testing for Congress and concerns about the federal election. Read the full transcript here.
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Kevin McCarthy: (00:01)
Sixty-four years ago today, In God We Trust was adopted as our official national motto. As we honor the life of John Lewis, as we confront this virus and as we rebuild our economy, our trust in God has never been more than important. More than a 100 days ago, I urged Speaker Pelosi to institute a safe, clear, and effective plan to reopen Congress. House Republicans even provided the framework. In the plan we specifically called for implementing rapid testing capabilities for Congress. As I wrote then our ongoing testing regime should be scaled as test availability increases nationwide. The plan should progress to implement asymptomatic randomized testing, and eventually FDA authorized rapid antigen test. And in mid June House Administrations, Rodney Davis, Mark Walker, and Barry Loudermilk wrote to the speaker echoing the same need for testing protocols.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:02)
The Trump administration offered to help with the test, but the House majority refused to accept them. In March, we saw a Democrat and a Republican become the first members of Congress to test positive for COVID-19. And we have seen a total of nine members now test positive. The House majority’s reaction posture has proven inadequate for the institution of our size and unique responsibilities. This is not just a campus. The country expects us to convene. That is why today, I sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi once again, urging her to implement a comprehensive plan that would create a safe environment to help us conduct the work the American people deserve.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:43)
Small businesses nationwide have implemented necessary changes to reopen safely for their employees and customers. I just can’t understand why Democrats cannot do the same. I have checked again with the administration, the offer is still there for the rapid Abbott test. In the plan that I laid out more than a 100 days ago, it would have brought just a few committees back. We would have tested the members. We would have tested staff and we would test the press. None of that has taken place. There’s more than 50 million tests that have already happened in America, but the one place it’s not happening is in Congress. I can’t understand why the speaker continues to refuse. Is it just because the offers come from the administration? There’s times and place that politics has got to stop.
Kevin McCarthy: (02:41)
The other place I believe politics needs to stop is when it comes to China. I have to wonder why Democrats are so hesitant to hold China accountable. I don’t know what the Chinese Communist Party has on the Democrats, but it is effective. The evidence is undeniable, they are conducting espionage, hacking our vaccine development, the research, and today there was even an article in Axios. Reported that warned about China’s increased capability in interfering in our elections. Yet, Democrats have voted again and again against our attempts to hold China accountable. Just yesterday in a markup about an election interference bill. Ranking member McCall tried to amend it to also talk about China and the Democrats all voted against and refused.
Kevin McCarthy: (03:39)
Even though in the same article in Axios, you have Christopher Wray with the FBI talking about the fear of China’s actions for our elections and the influence they are trying to have on members of Congress. Also yesterday, Democrats voted against our attempt to bring up a bill that has been sitting on the speaker’s desk for more than a month. The CONFUCIUS Act by Senator Kennedy. The speaker continues to deny it, and the Democrats voted against it. Also, sitting on the speaker’s desk is holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act by Senator Kennedy. Pelosi has held this since, May. And last week they voted against the bill to hold China accountable for hacking our COVID research for our vaccine. At the same time, on the same day, where we arrested or indicted to Chinese for coming after the hacking of the vaccine. The Democrats on the floor of the House again, stood with the Communist Party of China instead of with the American public.
Kevin McCarthy: (04:50)
Instead of taking action to keep Americans safe. Democrats are making excuses. As you look on the screen, look at what they have said. Biden, “We believe that arising China is a positive development. A rising China continues to control our supply chain.” I don’t find that positive at all. I think actually the reverse. Pelosi says, “What the president’s saying about China is interesting. It’s an interesting diversion.” Does she find that same diversion interesting, wen she listens to Christopher Wray or what we’ve read that he said? Adam Schiff, blames the escalation on America on closing the Houston consulate. This very dramatic and sudden escalation with China is all about politics. This is the chair of the Intel Committee.
Kevin McCarthy: (05:44)
Others will tell you this was the hub of espionage for the Communist Party of China. But our chairman of intel believes and blames America for it. The chairman of the Armed Services, he actually said this on the floor of the House regarding a motion to recommit, to hold anybody who would hack America over the vaccine to put sanctions on them. This is what they voted against, but this is what the chairman of Armed Services said, “It is not actually China’s job to warn the American people.” About the virus? So China had no responsibility when they lied to the world, when they stopped their own domestic flights. They should not have warned the rest of the world about this virus? The only people who believe this are those who are elected in the democratic party.
Kevin McCarthy: (06:45)
Again, I do not know what the communist party has on the Democrats, but it is very effective. So effective that the chair of the Intel Committee … I don’t know what he missed, why he was only focused on impeachment, but to thank an escalation of a closing of a Houston consulate where others consider it was the number one hub for espionage, to blame America. Regardless the Democrats are still fixated on a Russian hoax and ignoring the blatant threat right before our eyes. With that, I’ll take questions. Yes ma’am.
Speaker 2: (07:30)
So the president tweeted this morning after expressing concerns with mail in voting. He floated moving the election. I was wondering what your thoughts are on that or if that’s something that you agreed with?
Kevin McCarthy: (07:40)
I understand the president’s concern about mail voting, which is different than absentee voting, but never in the history of the federal elections have we ever not held an election and we should go forward with our election. But we should have absentee voting, but this mass, just mailing out ballots without having any checks and balances, without people requesting really brings concern in there. But no way should we ever not hold our election on the day that we have it. Yes, sir.
Speaker 3: (08:09)
Are you worried the president by criticizing mail in voting is going to be effective, hurting Republican chance for the polls. You guys had a federal election in California, where you won. Mail in voting predominantly happened in that race. Should the president be raising questions the way he is in questioning the integrity of the election?
Kevin McCarthy: (08:30)
Well, I think the concern that people should have is the difference between absentee voting and what people have changed to try to do mail in voting. You want to make sure your elections are honest and safe and secure. And in doing so, yes in California, we have absentee voting where people actually register, check a box and get an absentee. And what happens when you vote by absentee you actually sign it, and when it goes into the election office and you can trace it because you want to make sure your vote counts. They’ll look at your signature to see if it’s the same as the one that you signed for voter registration. I do believe people need to be right registered to vote and in doing so then you know that election is safe. I have watched time and again, if you just mass mail ballots out, people have moved. Voter rolls are not updated. And that’s where you have real problems in elections.
Kevin McCarthy: (09:23)
It’s been stated, it’s been shown. We’ve watched people hold elections up. That’s what the president is talking about. He’s not talking about absentee voting. He wants all Republicans, when they get their absentee vote to put it in as soon as possible and follow it with many states allow you to, online to make sure your vote counts. If for some reason your vote didn’t count, go to the polls on Election Day. Again, the president wants all Republicans to vote absentee, putting your ballot in, if you get it. But this mass creates a fraud in the process and understand the president’s concern with that.
Kevin McCarthy: (10:01)
But a bigger concern out there, if you read this report about Christopher Wray. That’s real concerning what I read today. China, could have the capabilities of doing something in an election or influencing members of Congress, knowing what they have done with COVID, knowing what they’re trying to do with hacking, knowing what they’ve been trying to do stealing so much of our technology. And we all know that China has a real concern and a real desire of who they want to win by their actions, would concern me.
Speaker 3: (10:37)
But should he be questioning the integrity of the elections, which is what he’s been doing?
Kevin McCarthy: (10:38)
No, I think what the president is questioning, is the integrity of a mass ballots out on sending out and anybody will tell you. Yeah, that’s a real problem. On either side of the aisle. We’ll show you and you have histories of problems through many elections that have that concern. I mean, let’s take, for instance, we just had to have a special election in this new Congress because Democrats did not seed an individual. A Republican who won the seat because they had concerns that there was ballot harvesting by absentee ballots. So the Democrats literally took the action, not to seed an individual who won an election, even though that number was smaller than the number of what he won by.
Kevin McCarthy: (11:24)
So the only person that has really taken greater action are the Democrats. So I’m sure you ask them that question as well. So it goes on both sides of the aisle. We know if this is mass mailing out and you don’t have clean records, you’re going to have fraud in the process. But an absentee ballot where somebody applies for voter registration then applies for an absentee ballot, you have security in that. And that’s why the president wants people when they get their absentee ballot to vote and put it in and trace it to make sure it’s counts. But this mass mail out creates real problems. Yes.
Speaker 4: (12:01)
Why do you think such a significant number of your members have been resistant to wearing masks on the floor and through committee hearings and while they’re up here doing the people’s business?
Kevin McCarthy: (12:11)
Well, I probably disagree with the premise of your question because you-
Speaker 4: (12:15)
[crosstalk 00:12:15] on the floor and [crosstalk 00:12:16].
Kevin McCarthy: (12:16)
Okay. What’s your definition of a large number? What was the term you used?
Speaker 4: (12:20)
Kevin McCarthy: (12:21)
Significant. So what’s significant to you?
Speaker 4: (12:23)
I don’t know, a dozen standing around on the floor talking, not wearing masks.
Kevin McCarthy: (12:26)
I don’t see a dozen on the floor, not wearing masks. I see a number of my members all wearing masks. [crosstalk 00:12:32]. I think they all should wear masks. That’s the answer to your question? Yes.
Speaker 4: (12:36)
Let me ask it this way then. Have you made it clear to your members, especially in light of Congressman Gohmert’s diagnosis yesterday. That they need to be following these guidelines, both when they’re here and when they’re home in their districts for the protection of their fellow members, staff, and everyone else who works up here.
Kevin McCarthy: (12:50)
I made it long before Louie Gohmert was tested. I made it long before a number of Democrats got COVID. I wrote a letter to the speaker more than a 100 days ago. And I actually wrote a plan in the minority on how to safely and clearly open up Congress, not bringing everybody back at once, but actually bringing the committees back that you have to do the work. Putting it in a bigger size room, so you had the distance capability of doing it. So I don’t know if you want to go place by place, but I watched a Democrat many times without masks. I watched Democrats now who don’t have to show up to work and still get paid. I watched a Democrat from Arizona, sit on a boat with no mask voting and getting paid. So everyone gets here and runs on their own merit. But if you’re asking what re responsibility I have, yes I have laid out a plan that’s very clear that the speaker has never done anything on nor has she allowed testing in this building.
Kevin McCarthy: (13:49)
So if you’re concerned about that, there are people that can wear a mask. There are people that wash their hands. They can have no symptoms and still have COVID because we go back and forth. And that person could be walking around the floor, putting their card in a box to vote where every other member goes up and puts their card in a box and vote. But there is no testing here, that is a greater risk than we have before. And I’ve watched a speaker do nothing about it. Even though for more than a 100 days, she doesn’t even have to write anything new. We laid a plan for her, not to be partisan, but to be safe. To care about the public health of this country and this body and in doing so I also cared about you. Why? Because you know what you could bring COVID to us. I don’t know what you do on off hours. I don’t know who’s in your household.
Kevin McCarthy: (14:46)
And it’s a responsibility for the press to be able to deliver what’s happening inside the chambers. So I think the press should be tested. I think the staff should be tested. There should be fewer people in here. That’s why in the plan, I shrink the number of people in the Capitol. The whole staff should not be back in the offices. The offices are very clear, you know the size of the square footage in Rayburn, Longworth, and Cannon. You can set the number just as in the plan that did, based upon square footage. So we’ve had a plan for a long time. We just haven’t had a speaker that’s been willing to implement it or think about the safety of everybody else. It’s reactionary.
Kevin McCarthy: (15:30)
And I know it seems to me, Louie Gohmert being the ninth member of Congress to get this, that now people are upset about it. Where was the clamor in others when early Democrats and Republicans got it? Why didn’t we have testing then? Why didn’t she put a plan out then? Because prior to anybody coming back here, we laid it out. So yes, I take concern, if someone does not wear a mask, but I showed that more than a 100 days ago. That’s why I get upset. The lack of action. And if you want to look at one thing, think about it, how many times we vote, how many times we put that card in. We’re watching time and again, that people are passing this with no symptoms. People want to go down and take a test, you can’t. If somebody is found just like the other eight members that have, why haven’t we tested those people that are around them within the committee. And it’s not just in committee. Who are those members near? Who did they have dinner with before? Who did they have a meeting with before? We found some members that think they had got it from constituents coming into them. So you have a continuing changing happen. That’s why in this plan that we laid out, it took care of that situation as well. Yes.
Speaker 4: (16:49)
I’m not disputing the point of testing at all. I’m merely making the point that you have influence with your members to say, “Guys, I need you to change this, seriously.”
Kevin McCarthy: (16:56)
Just as I spoke today in conference. And just as you watched every member in there wear a mask, I’ve been very clear to them. She or he, wear your mask, wash your hands, keep distance. And most importantly, don’t oversize your office, where we go about working. I can go back and look at so many problems throughout here. There’s times when you all come around us, you’re too close. You’re emotional, you’re passionate. You’re too close, but you never hear me ask a question back to you. Do you think it’s wrong? Do you tell your other press people, don’t get so close to one another? Because I could point out numerous times that this happened. It happened yesterday. When you were talking about Louie Gohmert to me, you were all circling around. Not just me, but each other. And you hover together quite often. Yes.
Speaker 5: (17:47)
Sir. A GDP numbers today, very low, very poor performance. Do you think that the president was trying to distract or change the subject with his talk of delaying the election? And how do you respond to the GDP?
Kevin McCarthy: (18:02)
No. And no one didn’t expect the numbers to go down, when government shut down. When China lied to the world, not only did people die from it, but economically the world has been hurt. That’s why it’s shocking to me that Democrats won’t hold them accountable. They go out of their way to vote against any bill that would hold China accountable. We got another number of people losing their jobs, but the Democrats don’t want to hold China accountable for that. We have numerous families that do not have mothers, daughters, fathers, brothers, because they’ve passed away from these lies. We’re watching the economy come back though, as we get past this. We’ve got record numbers coming back, working like we haven’t had before, but you have that because you’ve had a steep drop based upon what China has done to the entire world.
Kevin McCarthy: (18:56)
Do you think for one moment, you watch that study from South Hampton that 95% of all this never would have happened had China been honest with the world. What do you think would have happened, when they stopped the domestic flights, they stopped the international flights. What do you think would have happened when they first got the notice that they told the world they had a concern? What do you think would have happened, if they didn’t try to hack our vaccine and they actually worked with us to solve a problem they created? People would have not lost their jobs or their lives. The world would be in a much different place.
Kevin McCarthy: (19:37)
Now, why can’t the US House of Representatives that has a majority party of the Democrats say that same thing instead of blame America and say it wasn’t China’s responsibility. These aren’t rank and file Democrats, these are the chairs and the leaders and the speaker of the House of Representatives. That’s appalling to me. Yes.
Speaker 6: (20:06)
So we know that the offer still stands from the White House on three Abbott rapid machines. Have you talked to the speaker or leader McConnell about wanting to bring those here, like lately?
Kevin McCarthy: (20:17)
The speaker is gone right now. I sent her a letter. I’ve talked to the Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer about it. I have communicated not just from the administration, but I know there are capabilities from the Air Force and others to have this. There’s no other place that has this responsibility and this size that is being managed this way. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand, did I do something wrong by putting a plan out more than a 100 days ago? Is it because she’d have to accept things that we spent the time talking to the medical experts on how best? I’m just trying to be helpful. It doesn’t matter if you’re Republican or Democrat in the press or a constituent. I want you to be safe. I think Congress is essentia. Through every other challenge in America, we have always stayed open. The Democrats answer is, “No go be on a boat. Vote that way.” You don’t have to wear a mask while you do that either, that’s not safe, but you still get paid. Nowhere else in America. Does that happen either? Yes.
Speaker 6: (21:28)
And a follow up as well. So [inaudible 00:21:29], has said that if there is not an agreement on this next relief package by the weekend that you all are going to go home for a while and then come back. Does it concern you every time that you guys leave, that you may be bringing the virus back and forth that it may be transmitting when you go home?
Kevin McCarthy: (21:46)
Well, you should have the same practices home as here. And each states different. Each area’s different, but what’s concerning to me is every time we seem to be able to work on a bill that Nancy Pelosi is able to delay it. Seems to be one common denominator in all of that, doesn’t it? Even when Schumer said, “The deal was done.” We came back on a meeting on Sunday for Nancy to hold it up a week longer. So yeah, I think in those GDP numbers, Nancy had some effect on that as well. That’s unfortunate. This is an opportunity to do something different. This is an opportunity to put people before politics. And I hope we think of the health. I hope we have a very clear plan. I hope we’ve learned enough from this, that now we can accept the testing, 50 million tests already done across America, but not inside this building. It’s almost that they don’t want to work.
Kevin McCarthy: (22:47)
And then the idea from where this virus all came from, to defend China, to say they don’t have a responsibility, to withhold bills from coming to the floor that can hold them accountable. And from an intel chairman, where the rest of the world says the espionage hub of all of China is Houston. While we watch when that decision was made, they’re burning who knows what on the top of their consulate and not allowing a fire department in. Why does the rest of the world know so much about intel than Adam Schiff? Not only should the speaker put a plan together, she ought to change the chair because while he sits and worries about Russia, we wonder how much further and how much more damage China is doing to this country.