May 20, 2021
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Press Conference Transcript May 20
House Minority Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy held a press conference May 20, 2021. Read the full transcript of the briefing here.
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Kevin McCarthy: (00:15)
You all got white ballots? Hey, you didn’t know I knew that, did you?
Kevin McCarthy: (00:19)
Well, thank you for coming. Today, May 20th, marks Cuban Independence Day. The day that Cuba successfully gained its independence from Spain over a century ago in 1902. This should be a happy occasion. Sadly, today is a somber reminder that Cuba is not a free country. Its brave people suffer from the ruthless Communist Regime, that strips them of their rights and their self-determination and their future. On this anniversary, we reaffirm our commitment to standing with the people of Cuba and all those who fight for freedom and democracy across the world.
Kevin McCarthy: (00:57)
At a time when the new socialist Democrats say, “Socialism is the answer”. Today reminds us that Socialism is incompatible with the true meaning of freedom. Freedom means protecting ourselves, our families and our communities, not subjecting them to the State. Freedom means practicing free speech and self-determination, not suppressing them with violence. And freedom certainly means pursuing happiness, not stifling it.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:28)
Americans are blessed to enjoy these freedoms in our nations, but sadly, Cubans cannot in theirs. That’s because Socialism never practice what it preaches. That is why I’m alarmed when Democrats use Socialist rhetoric and push Socialist policies. Democrats want to control what we read, what we teach our children and deny our history. Democrats want to censure free speech and restrict debate through political correctness. And Democrats want to redistribute taxpayers’ hard-earned money from those who work to those who choose not to. That my friends is the road to serfdom.
Kevin McCarthy: (02:09)
The fact is Socialism policies have never worked and they do not work. They will never work as long as we have those who are willing to fend her. And the Republican party always will. America will never be a Socialist country. I stand before you proud to take part in recognizing Cuban Independence Day and in solidarity for a free and democratic Cuba.
Kevin McCarthy: (02:36)
I feel especially honored to be joined by those members of Congress to celebrate freedom and denounce Socialism. They and their families directly understand the meaning behind President Reagan’s famous words, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” They and their families know the struggle, because they are all Cuban Americans, who in one way or another, have borne witness to the brutality of Communism. And now I invite them to share their thoughts on this day, starting with my friend, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart from Florida.
Mario Diaz-Balart: (03:11)
Thank you Leader.
Kevin McCarthy: (03:11)
Mario Diaz-Balart: (03:12)
Good morning folks. Let me thank the Leader for bringing us together here. As he said, while that fight for Independence, which lasted a hundred years, culminated an Independence for Cuba. Today, freedom is elusive in that Island just 90 miles away from the United States. Today, a Communist Socialist dictatorship represses murders, the Cuban people?
Mario Diaz-Balart: (03:40)
And today that same dictatorship is a threat, obviously not only to the Cuban people, to the hemisphere, but to the national security interests of the United States, which is why it is crucial that the United States continues at solidarity with the Cuban people and not with the regime that represses the Cuban people. It would be a grave mistake to eliminate or weaken sanctions at a time when that regime continues to repress the Cuban people and continues to do everything in its power to hurt the national security interests of the United States.
Mario Diaz-Balart: (04:15)
I’m reminded to buy from people that talk about Socialism as this panacea. And then I’m also told that in the United States, it can never happen. But I’m reminded of people in the wonderful country of Venezuela just two decades ago. A country with a large, long democratic tradition. A wealthy country, the wealthiest country in South America, a place where Socialism and Communism could never take hold, but it did. And now that wealthy country is the place where over a million and a half refugees have left from.
Mario Diaz-Balart: (04:54)
It’s a place of depravity. It’s a place of violence. And of again, no human rights. If you talk to Cubans a little bit over 60 years ago, they used to saying [foreign language 00:05:05] Cuba is like a piece of cork. It can never sink no matter what you do to it, because it was prosperous.
Mario Diaz-Balart: (05:12)
Because it was a wealthy little Island, up and coming wealthy little Island with a huge, middle-class. More Americans used to emigrate to Cuba, pre-Castro. Then Cubans used to come to the United States. Think about that, and then look at it today. Yeah, that is the marvel of Socialism. You saw in this last election, how the entire South Florida, Hispanic community coalesced against Socialism. And I saw so many press reports saying, well, it’s because the people in South Florida, the Los Hispanos, Los Latinos, the Hispanics were misinformed. Well that patronizing attitude… Again, it’s not only patronizing. It’s false. Because let me tell you the truth.
Mario Diaz-Balart: (06:01)
Those who do understand Socialism, those who have seen this before, are the people in South Florida, our constituents. If you believe Socialism is the answer, come speak to our constituents who have lived it. You believe taking people’s firearms away? You believe that censoring books from bookstores is the answer? Come speak to our constituents who have seen it happen before. This country will never become a socialist country, as long as we continue to understand the evils of Communism, the evils of Socialism and examples abounds, just in our hemisphere. [foreign language 00:06:48].
Mario Diaz-Balart: (06:47)
Let me now introduce a dear friend, who has a family, who is very well known, obviously a particular to in South Florida. And that is obviously Congressman Alex Mooney, whose mother by the way, served time in Castro’s gulags. Alex.
Alex Mooney: (08:19)
Thank you, Mario. My mother fled communist Cuba when she was 20 years old. She was born and raised there. Spent seven weeks in a communist prison for being fortunate to come to this country. Her name is Eulalia Suarez Gaston. She goes by Lala now. We see she wrote a book about her journey to freedom here in America. One of 14 children. Very proud of our Cuban heritage. Obviously being raised by a mother who lost her country, actually on page one of her book, she says on April 17th, 1961, during the Bay of Pigs invasion. It became more dangerous now as Fidel Castro used everything possible to stay in power. The danger was very real for my entire family, and for anyone else who had spoken out against Fidel Castro’s revolution. You see in Cuba, they don’t have freedom of the press like we are enjoying right here today.
Alex Mooney: (09:05)
They don’t have that. You speak out against your government, they lock you up. That’s it. So being raised with a mother, my father fought in Vietnam. He was an Army Captain fighting against the advance of Communism. I was raised to stand up and fight back against the evils of Communism to fight for freedom, and I’m going to continue to do that here in this country. So I’m just going to… We got a lot of speakers. I’m going to move on to our next speaker. It’s my pleasure to introduce, someone who’s like me. Her mother came from Cuba as well. Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis of New York.
Nicole Malliotakis: (09:37)
Thank you very much for coming here today and thank you to the Leader for acknowledging this day, because we once again want to see a free Cuba. Viva Cuba Libre is something that we say and we pray for. I am the daughter of a Cuban refugee. My mom came in 1959 when Fidel Castro took power. Fortunately like many families, my family was split apart. My mother came with her sister, with my grandmother. They came to United States for freedom.
Nicole Malliotakis: (10:16)
My grandfather chose to stay behind because he was a small business owner. He had two gas stations and a home, which the regime eventually took. And I’m here today to warn the American people about what could potentially happen. Should we not fight to preserve these freedoms, these liberties and the American dream for future generation? Some of the stuff I hear being proposed from my colleagues on the other side is quite scary.
Nicole Malliotakis: (10:47)
One of the scariest things that I heard was packing the court. That was from my neighbor, Nadler in Brooklyn. And why is it scary? Well, if you know your history and you look at what happened to Venezuela, that is exactly how Hugo Chavez destroyed Venezuela. Packed the court from 20 to 32 justices, passed 45,000 consecutive cases ruled in he and Maduro’s favor. And that is how they destroyed the wealthiest nation in South America.
Nicole Malliotakis: (11:18)
Socialism is nothing but Communism lie. That’s what it is. When you run out of other people’s money, that’s when you use the force, the abuse, the arrest, the murders to keep power. And it’s something that we need to be mindful of, because we must always, as Americans, be on the side of freedom, of Liberty, of opportunity and what so many people like my parents came to this country to pursue.
Nicole Malliotakis: (11:50)
There’s a reason why everyone wants to come to the United States. There’s a reason why you see the crisis at the Southern border today. And people who are American born, should take the opportunity to talk to those individuals who fled their homelands, to find out why they fled their homelands. And my colleagues were proposing policies, the very policies that these immigrants fled their home country to escape. Should actually have a conversation with those individuals to find out why their policies are broken and would destroy this country. Thank you very much, and I’m so honored to introduce my good friend, who was born in Cuba and came here as just a six year old boy, Carlos Gimenez.
Carlos Gimenez: (12:35)
Thank you Nicole. I was actually born in Cuba. I’m actually an immigrant. I fled… My family fled Communism back in 1960. I can tell you that the things that happened when Castro took power. Number one, you lost your freedom to bear arms. Number two, you lost your freedom of the press. You lost your freedom of expression and you also were indoctrinated. One of the things that I asked my father, some years after I came here was, “Dad, how come… what made you decide to come to the United States?” He said, “Son, you came home one day and it was clear to me that you’re being indoctrinated. And for me, it was much more important that you live in a land of freedom and opportunity than to keep our lifestyle.”
Carlos Gimenez: (13:21)
And by the way, we were upper middle class. So my father came here and my mother came here to the United States back in November of 1960. They came here with $10 in their pocket and a watch. And that was it. And they started a new. And so it wasn’t about an economic flight. It was about a flight of policy, politics, Communism, Socialism, the pure rejection of Communism and Socialism. I want to thank the Leader for recruiting me to come to Congress. And the reason I came to Congress is to fight the ideology that’s being pitched here by the other side, I’m here to fight the squad and what they think is their theory of how things could be better in the United States. Well, I live that theory. And that theory doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked in Cuba.
Carlos Gimenez: (14:12)
It didn’t work in the Soviet Union. It certainly not working in Venezuela. It’s never worked anywhere and yet they’re pitching it to us. And so remember the things I told you, freedom of the press, yes, you still have freedom of the press, freedom of expressions. You see more and more censorship happening right now. They’re trying to take away our gun rights. And so be careful about the things that are being espoused by the other side. We see it. We see it very clearly on this side because we lived it. And so we know what the next step is, and don’t believe that it can’t happen here. And what I want to do is I want to make sure that what happened to me in 1960, doesn’t happen to my children or my grandchildren in the future where they’re going to have to live… leave this country for somewhere else to find freedom.
Carlos Gimenez: (14:56)
And that’s what we’re here to do, fight for freedom. And, and again, thank you Leader, for showing your commitment to the Liberty for a free Cuba. Yes, we’re commemorating 119 years of Cuban’s… Cuba’s Liberty, but Cuba isn’t free. And just ask the millions of people that live there today. And you can’t ask, but there are tens of thousands of people that have died trying to leave it.
Carlos Gimenez: (15:28)
Now, what country forces their people to stay, and doesn’t give them the right to leave? Well, I can tell you one country. Cuba. All right? Where again, tens of thousands of people have lost their lives in the straits of Florida, trying to leave that country. If it were up to Ocasio-Cortez and her group, the squad, that’s paradise. Cuba is paradise. It’s no paradise. It’s equality. Everybody’s equal for sure. They’re equally miserable in Cuba. Do you want misery? Go ahead and follow what they want to give us. And so again, I want to thank you, Leader. I want to thank all my colleagues that are here. I’m going to say a couple of words in Spanish. [foreign language 00:16:09]
Carlos Gimenez: (16:08)
Thank you. God bless you all. Now I’ll introduce my colleague from Florida 27, Representative Maria Salazar.
Maria Salazar: (16:52)
Thank you very much. I was a member of the press for 35 years, so I know exactly what you guys were thinking. Why do these people talk so much? It’s hot. I’m going to cut. I’m just going to do a two 30 and low package. And probably we are just going to not use most of this material. I’m Maria Salazar, district number 27. I represented the heart of the Cuban Exile Community in the United States.
Maria Salazar: (17:22)
I understand that many in the press and the mainstream media, believes that the Cubans… These Cubans are a bunch of crazies and they exaggerate when they’re talking about Socialism. Cuba and Venezuela, that’s not going to happen here. Oh no, no, because we have institutions and those institutions are strong. And this democratic Socialism in reality is just trying to do better and to find equality and all those pretty words that we hear. Reality is, that is a fallacy.
Maria Salazar: (17:52)
Socialism is Socialism is Socialism. You have two models. Capitalism or you have Socialism. Or you have free market. You have free market economy, which is what we want, Egalitarian free market economy or we have Socialism. Be very careful. And we know it. And as my colleagues, and I thank once again, the Leader, for acknowledging today, at a very important day for my community, that hasn’t come yet, which is a free Cuba. I do want to forewarn all of you and be very careful that what’s really happening in this country is very troubling for all of us.
Maria Salazar: (18:27)
We’re sending the message that we need to bring… We need to keep the American agenda the way it is. It has worked for 300 years. And when they tell you that… And as Carlos Gimenez was saying… when they are… They’re saying that we have not tried Socialism the right way. That is a fallacy. Venezuela in only 20 years, lost all of its freedoms and the average Venezuelan weighs 15 pounds less today than 20 years ago because of democratic Socialism. I would like to say a few words now in Spanish [foreign language 00:19:02].
Maria Salazar: (19:01)
Thank you very much. And if you want to take individual… The pen invites. I’m sure that we’ll hear it. Once again, thank you speaker. I mean thank you Leader.
Kevin McCarthy: (19:36)
Thank you all very much. We understand many people when they sit back and think about what happened in Cuba and Venezuela, they think it could never happen here. But when you listened to the debate in the House, on this new majority of the Socialist Democrats, you begin to wonder. And that’s why it’s so important with those behind me. Not only for themselves personally, but their own family have witnessed what is going on. We can never allow that to happen into America. Questions, comments.
Speaker 7: (20:03)
Kevin McCarthy: (20:03)
Yeah, let’s start. Next guest. What do we have? About Cuba.
Speaker 7: (20:07)
Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6th? If you were asked by an outside commission?
Kevin McCarthy: (20:14)
Sure. Next question.
Speaker 8: (20:15)
Were you surprised to see 35 Republicans show up at the commission and [crosstalk 00:20:21]
Kevin McCarthy: (20:20)
No, not at all. I thought it would probably be higher. But this Pelosi Commission that we tried to work on for quite some time… Remember, I asked Pelosi for one on January 13th. She spent four months just playing politics with it. In that time period, an officer got killed on Good Friday, just across with this Capitol. She didn’t want to have the scope to do that as well.
Kevin McCarthy: (20:40)
I just felt we’re going to have four things happening right now. You’ve got two committees in the Senate already doing their investigation. I believe in two weeks, they’ll already have the report back. Even though Pelosi wasted all this time. You’ve got the architect of the Capitol, given $10 million to study what we need done here to protect it. And then you’ve got the Justice Department. Rightfully does a much better job than we could ever do. Arrested already 445 people, probably more, another hundred coming.
Kevin McCarthy: (21:08)
That’s the type of work we want to make sure done. That it never happens again. That those who participated in and caused it should be held accountable. And that we secure this Capitol and we don’t play politics with it. I just think a Pelosi Commission is a lot of politics. Yes.
Speaker 9: (21:23)
What in the language of the bill limits the scope of the Commission? It says it can look at any [crosstalk 00:21:28].
Kevin McCarthy: (21:28)
No, it doesn’t say any.
Speaker 9: (21:30)
Kevin McCarthy: (21:30)
No it doesn’t.
Speaker 10: (21:30)
It says influencing factors.
Kevin McCarthy: (21:30)
No. It’s… [crosstalk 00:21:31]
Speaker 9: (21:31)
Influencing factors would be relevant. That would be an influencing factor, potentially.
Kevin McCarthy: (21:37)
I have a difference of opinion here and a legal council does too. So I gave language to Speaker Pelosi. I sent her two different letters. She never would communicate at all in that process. I think the scope needs to be expanded. If you look at the nine-11 Commission… We looked at what happened on nine-11 and what the buildup for that was. And I think that would be important here as well.
Speaker 11: (21:55)
Kevin McCarthy: (21:56)
Speaker 11: (21:56)
Do you think it’s a conflict of interest for members to be voting on a Commission that they might have to potentially be witnesses for, and provide information on?
Kevin McCarthy: (22:03)
No. Because who knows what they’re going to do on the Commission? So, no, I don’t think so.
Speaker 11: (22:08)
You’re absolutely certain that none of your members were in any communication with any of the people who stormed Capitol Hill?
Kevin McCarthy: (22:14)
Don’t believe it all. But thank you for the question. Everybody have a nice day.
Speaker 12: (22:16)
Leader McCarthy, can I ask about the mask resolution from yesterday?
Kevin McCarthy: (22:19)
Speaker 12: (22:19)
So yesterday, the resolution that you have brought to the floor about masks was tabled. Is there anything else that your conference can do or plans to do to change the mask requirements currently on the floor?
Kevin McCarthy: (22:30)
Well we would just like to abide by the Science. What’s interesting is, as you look at this building, there’s a Chamber for the House and a Chamber for the Senate. But apparently, COVID works differently in both Chambers, because in the Senate, you don’t wear a mask. In the House, you have to wear a mask. The only difference is the Speaker. She doesn’t want to abide by the CDC rules. She actually wants to have greater control. That to me is a real frustration on all that we have happened. How can the Senate not wear a mask, and then the House in the same building? To me, it’s all about it. [crosstalk 00:23:01] That’s not true.
Speaker 13: (23:03)
Yeah? Are you encouraging the rest [crosstalk 00:23:04]
Speaker 9: (23:03)
You said 75%.
Speaker 14: (23:11)
You said half.
Speaker 9: (23:11)
Half of your conference is 25%.