Nov 12, 2020
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Press Conference Transcript November 12
House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy held his weekly press conference on November 12. He discussed the House election results and said the new House Republicans class is the “most diverse” yet. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Kevin McCarthy: (00:06)
Good morning, all. Yesterday, the country paused to recognize their nation’s veterans. And on behalf of the entire Republican Conference, I want to express our heartfelt appreciation to every veteran who served our country. Their commitment to service and the love of the country exemplifies the very best of America. They deserve leaders in Washington who will hold the line and do their part in protecting our individual liberties at home. That is why I could not be prouder of the House Republicans and those who are joining us in the next Congress. It will be the most diverse class we have ever had. Many have already dubbed this year the year of the Republican woman. And it couldn’t be truer from that statement. We are posed to have 29 House Republican women join our ranks, surpassing the previous record. Every Democrat incumbent who lost either lost to a woman, minority, or a veteran Republican. Meanwhile, Democrats are set to have the slimmest Democrat majority since World War II. Pundints doubted us, polls were stacked against us, and I don’t believe one person in this room believed we’d win one race.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:18)
The Cook Report said we lose 15 to 20. The majority leader, Steny Hoyer, said just days before the election that they would gain 15 seats and Republicans would lose them. Cheri Bustos, the head of the DCCC, I guess for a few days longer, poised that they would be double digits victories. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, claimed that she was not only winning the majority, she was having two elections this November, that it would be such a large victory she would guarantee the majority for the next election as well. They were all wrong. Not one Republican incumbent lost. Republicans won from Miami to New York to Minnesota to California. The only seat the Democrats won was an open seat. And then they claimed to have won a redistricting in North Carolina where Republicans didn’t even run. I heard the speaker called a mandate. It was a mandate against socialism. It was a mandate against defunding the police. It was a mandate against wasting a majority that the Democrats have done for the last Congress.
Kevin McCarthy: (02:39)
While the Democrats praised socialism and advocated to defund the police, our members made a commitment to America. That they would restore our way of life, rebuild our economy, and renew the American dream. We are eager and ready to show up to work, unlike the Democrats. Yesterday, Chairperson Lofgren, she signaled that the Democrats have infrastructure in place to ensure Democrats can continue to get paid for not showing up to work, something Americans across this country don’t have the privilege to do. Millions of Americans have already returned to work and millions more want to return. If they are willing to show up in person, so can we. It can be done in a safe manner to minimize the risk for members, for staff, employees, and for you, the press. Just as we did with the proxy voting scheme, House Republicans will stand up and defend the Constitution. Even if it gets in the way of the Democrats boat vacations and road trips to rocket launches.
Kevin McCarthy: (03:45)
We believe Congress is essential. We believe you just spent some millions of dollars saying you’ll be the voice for all of you in your district. You should show up and be that voice. Just like in May when I put myself and Tom Cole and Rodney Davis, gave a plan to open up the House safely with testing, which a speaker denied us, the ability to have rooms separated and distanced so we could have hearings in a safe manner. Even to this day, the speaker has no plan of how to have the House safely open up. Our success is already threatening Democrats. Instead of planning to work with us, they are already plotting ways to silence the minority party’s voice in Congress. As many of you know, they want to change the rules to the motion to recommit the MTR, as many of you know it. It’s the only way that a legislative body allows a minority just to have one amendment to a bill. It’s the only way the minority party can use the influence to improve legislation and serve as their constituents’ voice in DC. We won’t let them silence us.
Kevin McCarthy: (04:59)
This election cycle has made one thing clear. The Republican party is now the party of the American worker. That is the actual mandate that we had from the voters. We are going to fight them, push back against Democrats’ radical policies, and we’ll continue to put America first. With that, let’s open up for questions. Yes, sir.
Speaker 2: (05:21)
With regard to the election, Nancy Pelosi and Speaker Schumer or Leader Schumer has said basically that with all these lawsuits, that all it’s doing is just jeopardizing the democracy of America. Your reaction.
Kevin McCarthy: (05:38)
Not at all. You’ve got a hand recount going in Georgia. Every recount needs to be finished. You got challenges inside courts. Every challenge needs to be heard. Regardless of who you support in this election, the end of the day, we want America to be united. Regardless of how this outcome is, you want to be able to trust the election. If there was something that was wrong in this election, we do not want to repeat it for the future either. Just as we watched the race in 2000, it carried out more than 37 days because there were court cases. They were heard. I think when you have more than 150 million Americans voting, let’s make sure we get this right. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 3: (06:26)
Texas is concerned. Democrats really pinned hopes on about 10 seats, I think. Can Republicans now say that Texas is red and going forward for the next few cycles?
Kevin McCarthy: (06:41)
Look, I think every place is going to be competitive in the future. This country is very divided. We’re watching all these races. But the Democrats said they were going to flip Texas. The Cook Report actually had it as a toss up, I think at the end. They believed they were going to win all these open seats. They believed they were going to defeat incumbents. Not only in Texas, they did not defeat one Republican incumbent who ran for reelection. In the open seats, they only won one on the large number of all the open seats. In Texas, no, they didn’t defeat one down there. And just like in every other state on this win, we’re going to have some amazing women, Beth van Duyne, who’s going to add to the delegation of Texas and to the Republican party. Yes.
Speaker 4: (07:27)
You mentioned all these women that are Republicans, now 29 coming in. But how concerned are you about the Marjorie Taylor Greenes, the Lauren Boeberts, who have talked about and supported QAnon in the past, creating controversy for your conference? Marjorie Taylor walked around-
Kevin McCarthy: (07:44)
Did [inaudible 00:07:45] give you this question?
Speaker 4: (07:46)
No. Marjorie Taylor, she walked around with a Bible, looking for reps to leave and Omar, saying that they needed to swear on a Bible and not the Quran. How are you going to deal?
Kevin McCarthy: (08:00)
Look, our party is very diverse. You mentioned two people who are going to join our party and both of them have denounced QAnon. So the only thing I would ask of you and the press, these are new members, give them an opportunity before you claim what you believe they have done and what they will do. I think it’s fair for all. Yes.
Speaker 5: (08:20)
Do you feel that any of the legal efforts or the recounts will change the results in any single state or overturn anything related to the overall election?
Kevin McCarthy: (08:29)
I focus heavily on the House races. I thought, when I looked, I followed data numbers, I thought early on that Arizona, based upon the number of votes that were left out, could switch back to President Trump. Don’t know if that’s going to be the case as these things narrow. Let me give you example I guess more on a micro level. Because it’s very difficult. I have in my own race, in my county, we have two congressional seats. They tell me there’s approximately 150,016 votes left. They used the number 16. And it’s approximate. But they can’t tell me in which district they are. I’ve just watched a race in New Jersey that the AP called and probably called way too soon. Tom Kean is coming back up because in the manner of what we’ve had this election is different than others. Okay?
Kevin McCarthy: (09:17)
A lot of vote mail. Some states had done it before, others have not. Some mailed it to everybody. So when they counted, some counted certain votes coming in and it’d be disproportionate. Democrats more likely voted in the absentee portion. And Republicans overwhelmingly voted on election day. So each area doesn’t count them the same. So in this case, in New Jersey, they counted the votes based upon when they came in. So it looked like a member had a really high margin. So they called the vote. Now we’re seeing it just tricked down. So the new ones that are counting, Tom Kean’s winning by 63%. So your answer to your question is one could. And it’s best because everybody took the time to go vote. Let’s wait until we have all the information. They’re going to recount by hand in Georgia. That’s going to take some time. That’s a close race. We had a close race in the last presidential. Let’s let all of them carry out. And yeah, some of them could switch. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 6: (10:13)
You added a record number of women to the conference, but obviously still a fraction of what Democrats have in terms of diversity.
Kevin McCarthy: (10:19)
Can’t even give us that, can you? Go ahead. I’m sorry.
Speaker 6: (10:22)
What’s your plan to continue to increase diversity in the Conference?
Kevin McCarthy: (10:25)
Exactly what the plan I told you two years ago. That I believe the Republican party is much more diverse than what reflects on the floor. And I think this election proved it. I think when you look at who ran, who represented the party, and where they represented it from. When you look at the results and the outcome, it’s only in this room would we get a new record for the number of women. More diverse. And it only makes us stronger. That’s what makes America strong. We’re reflective upon that. Think about where we won. We won two seats in Miami, Maria Salazar, Carlos Gimenez. Maria defeated a Congresswoman who was the former secretary of the Health and Human Service who called herself a pragmatic socialist. When I listened to the Democratic caucus on Twitter, they’re all burning up, “We’re not socialists.” They literally claimed to be and they lost over it. We defeated a sitting chairman of a committee. Been here more than 30 years. The DCCC own chair had to put a million dollars into her own race in the last week. And it was questioned on election night whether she was going to win.
Kevin McCarthy: (11:39)
One day, you should at least let us have what took place that night. It was an unbelievable night for Republicans in Congress. Something that we told you about two years ago, that we would be more diverse exactly the way we look across the party. Those people had to run. They put their name on the line. Not only if you take us from two years ago, only 44 women won the primary. This time, 94. More women ran as Republicans than any time in the history of the Republican party. Before, the record was 143. 225 ran this time. So we’re doing fabulous and we’re going to continue it. And what’s going to happen with the success of the women, the success of the diversity, it’s going to empower others to see you can do it, I can do it too. Maybe I’ve been quiet about my beliefs in this party, but I know this party has a place for me. So they’re going to join. Yes, sir.
Speaker 7: (12:37)
I mean, talk about a little bit … Two part question. What do you want on COVID relief in the coming month? Because presumably you’ll have some say. McConnell says he wants a targeted small package. I’m curious where you come out. And next Congress, you’re going to have a pretty powerful minority. I’m curious how you think about that. In 2009, when you were in the minority, you guys didn’t participate much with Obama. You argue he didn’t participate with you. Let’s not have that conversation. I’m just curious if your orientation going into next Congress if Biden’s the president, which it seems obvious to most people.
Kevin McCarthy: (13:14)
The first thing I want to have happen, I want politics to end on the COVID. Now, you know I’ve been in all the discussions with the leaders. I’ve never watched one leader play politics more than anything else than Nancy Pelosi. She played politics from the very first time we did the CARES Act. You watched her delay it a week. You watched her, and I’ve watched her time and again, inside the meetings. She had one mission and one mission only. She was willing to sacrifice her own members. Remember what she said prior to departure when they were talking about COVID and the Problem Solvers had put a plan up. What’d she call the Problem Solvers? They’re irrelevant. She knew her own members were going to lose, but her whole focus, her tunnel vision, was it didn’t matter what the issue is, but if I can make President Trump weaker for an election, I’m going to do it.
Kevin McCarthy: (14:03)
And what she did in that instance is she sacrificed our economy and people who were hurting. The election is now over. And I think it was very clear that she should end her politics about it. And we should be able to get into a room. We’ve got money sitting there. What did the Republicans do? We put on the floor 37 times to be able to vote for money for COVID, for PPP. There is more than $137 billion sitting there. It’s only the date why you can’t keep going out. She dispersed Congress because she was afraid I was going to do a motion to recommit. She changed how we voted to the floor on a continuing resolution simply because she was afraid people would have got resources and help. So the number one thing that has to happen, the only thing that’s standing in the way, in my view, is Speaker Pelosi.
Kevin McCarthy: (14:57)
Yes, yes. And you know what? We have more information today. We’ve got more than $100 billion sitting there for states. This is money that’s already appropriated. Why is it being held up? People need some relief, and we can provide it. That money, the PPP goes to small businesses. It doesn’t go to the owners, it goes to the employees. It pays the rent. It’s every small city we know, the person who had a dream and took a risk. And let’s them stay around. That’s all that has to get done.
Kevin McCarthy: (15:32)
Now, working on the other side and thinking about the next Congress, I put a lot of thought into it. I’m first going to wait to see who holds up to become speaker. As you know, I’ve been through those battles. They’re not easy. It takes 218 on the floor. There were 15 Democrats who voted against the speakership of Nancy Pelosi last time. 10 of those 15 Democrats will be back. If 10 Democrats vote again against Nancy Pelosi, she will not be speaker. You see, the numbers are different. It is the smallest Democrat majority since World War II. And from every reporting I’m seeing or if I’m just reading Twitter, from their conference chair to Congresswoman AOC, it doesn’t seem they’re getting along very well. They’re fighting on the fundamental of who they are, for what they champion and what they lost over. And they have the exact same leadership team that they lost last time with. I don’t know, in history, has there ever been a leadership team to lose the majority twice? If they elect the same, we’ll know for sure whether that will be in history.
Speaker 8: (16:43)
Do you think that-
Kevin McCarthy: (16:47)
I always look forward to your question.
Speaker 8: (16:50)
I look forward to asking you too. James Lankford and Chuck Grassley both say that Joe Biden should have access to classified briefings to prepare for transition. Do you believe that Joe Biden should have access to classified intelligence briefings?
Kevin McCarthy: (17:04)
Only because I knew you were coming, I wanted to make sure what Joe Biden said too. I’m part of the gang of eight. I do trust our intel community. And I want to make sure I continue to trust it. Joe Biden said in regards to this, “Look, access to classified information is useful, but I’m not in a position to make any decisions on those issues anyway. So as I said, one president at a time. He will be president until January 20th. It would be nice to have it, but it’s not critical.” I think I kind of stand with Joe Biden. I’ll trust the intel community. He’s not president right now. Don’t know if he’ll be president January 20th. But whoever is will get the information. Thank you all very much. Look forward to spending time with you [inaudible 00:17:50].