Mar 25, 2020
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Press Conference Transcript on Stimulus Bill March 25
Kevin McCarthy: (00:02)
Good afternoon. As a father, a husband and a son, my first responsibility’s protect the health, the safety and the security of those who I represent. For anyone who is affected with this virus, maybe you lost a loved one, maybe you’re battling it, or maybe you even lost your job. What I want to say is we’re working for you. That is why I’m glad that the Senate has come to an agreement, and they need to act. And they need to act now. For over a week House Republicans have worked with our colleagues in the Senate to put together a really bold relief package in this time of crisis. Now unlike the financial crisis, this is not a result of fraudulent or irresponsible business practices. This is really a black swan event, I will say. And we’ll do whatever we need for the American family, the worker, and the small business until we are on the other side of this.
Kevin McCarthy: (00:54)
This legislation in the Senate will be an incredible help. There’re a few main things it provides. First, it provides the resources for hospitals that are running low and need liquidity and need the help. Secondly, it provides the family direct payment for those who have been hurt or injured in this process. It provides to the businesses, and especially those small businesses we all know and love that are shut down now, but it provides them the resources to stay afloat during this time. But more importantly, to keep their employees hired. In here we provide the resources for their rent and their employees, and it will be forgiven if they keep them hired. And for business as well we give them the incentive to do just the same. As I look at this bill, and when I met on Sunday, there’s not much that’s changed. Probably less than 1%.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:42)
But the number of people that had to make the decision around their kitchen table, they had a small business, to decide to lay somebody off because the inaction is wrong. That’s why I’m hopeful that we can get this moved through the Senate today. I know they have some corrections on some of the texts. I think that could get done. And hopefully it will be the time inside the house. I’ve been on conference calls for the last week with our members, keeping them abreast of where we are. On one today and will be on one later today. I want to make sure we review it, but do not slow it down, and be able to move this to the President’s desk as soon as possible. With that, let me take questions. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 2: (02:21)
Democrats have had characterized this will, at least a few days ago, as a corporate giveaway. What safeguards are in place to ensure that it isn’t a giveaway that for major corporations that will be benefiting from this than it is, I guess, loans and not grants, and that they will, I guess ultimately, pay the government back? Walk us through that, how it’s not what [inaudible 00:02:41].
Kevin McCarthy: (02:42)
Well, it’s not a corporate giveaway. Let’s walk through what it actually does and what it provides. If you look at the first portion of it, you’ll get about 250 billion set aside for direct payments for those who make $75,000 or less to help them. Secondly, you’re going to get about 350 billion in small business. Now you’re talking about more than 500 billion when it comes to businesses who are larger than 500 employees. As we hear day in and day out, they’re about to lay individuals off because they do not have revenue coming in. This will provide a much different than a direct grant or government giving them money. What government’s going to do, it’s going to secure their ability to have a loan at a lower rate so they can have the liquidity to keep people working. We also were able to add a provision of retention tax credit. So in this, maybe the employer cannot employ the person for the full 40 hours.
Kevin McCarthy: (03:33)
Government will allow, during these two to three months, to pick up a portion of that by a tax credit to allow you to keep that person working. It is very important that we keep individuals in America in a job and an in paycheck. That will keep us stronger as we go through in battling this virus. So hopefully we could come back with almost like a hockey stick approach in our economy and come back strong. This is so different than the financial crisis. These are not banks because they did something wrong. These are businesses that had to shut down for government asking to combat and keep us healthier and safer. And with that we’ll give them the security of a loan backing it up, going through their banks to provide them the liquidity, but also give them the incentive to keep people hired.
Speaker 3: (04:22)
Are you comfortable? Do you think your conference would be comfortable with potentially passing what you’ve seen in this compromise by unanimous consent so that people don’t have to come back from wherever they are for recorded votes?
Kevin McCarthy: (04:33)
I know we’re in a very challenging time. I know we have members who are quarantined, members who are battling the virus, members in New York city who could not travel here without 14 days. But I don’t believe we should pass a $2 trillion package by unanimous consent. There is a way to do it by not having to have everybody here, but also allowing everybody to have a voice. I think we should have time for debate, but I also think it would be able to pass it by a voice vote. And with a voice vote it gives you the opportunity that your constituents, and those who represent you, could debate the bill, could voice their opinion and not say that everybody is agreeing to it, yes or no. But more importantly, they could also put across the desk, because some have a problem for travel to get here in time. So I think they could put across the desk where they would stand on the bill itself. I think that achieves our goal by not slowing the process down, but giving us time to read the bill and making sure that it gets through.
Kevin McCarthy: (05:34)
Speaker 4: (05:35)
Kevin McCarthy: (05:36)
They have a bunch over here. We’ll take some.
Speaker 5: (05:37)
Once the Senate passes a bill, how soon do you think the House can take this up?
Kevin McCarthy: (05:42)
Well, I would hope we would at least have 24 hours. The speaker has said she’d give us 24 hours. And that’s why I’m taking the time right now to our members walking them through. I want to thank the number of the members inside the House on the Republican side who worked on this bill. Early on we did conference calls with our committees. They worked on ideas. They provided it to their counterparts over in the Senate. The way Senator McConnell actually crafted this bill was the way it should be done. He did it bottom up, where it came through committees. He did it bipartisan, where Democrat senators were involved in the discussions. And he did it bicameral. Our ranking members were in communications with their counterparts over in the Senate, and you’ll see a lot of the ideas through the House Republicans are actually in this bill.
Kevin McCarthy: (06:32)
The unfortunate part of all of this is the delay for the last three days. There was no need for that, that was politics at its worst. The idea that you would have the number three inside the democratic party say to take advantage of this situation to… What did Clyburn actually say? To re-craft, to reform in the idea of what they want and their philosophy. That is not right. People are hurting. People are losing their jobs. How many people were laid off in the last three days? How many people had to make that decision when this could have been passed and stronger for this American economy? Yes.
Speaker 6: (07:08)
We know there’s still a few sticking points, which is why you haven’t seen the final bill text on the legislation. What are those as you see them? And do you have any concerns with what they’re still working through?
Kevin McCarthy: (07:20)
I don’t have the complete text yet. I have where we were on Sunday. I have the ideas of where we’re going. So we’re reading through whatever parts we have now. I know the senators are doing the same. I think that is smart to make sure there’s not a problem with it. Sometimes when you move a bill, there are always one or two problems in there. We want to make sure the money will flow correctly. We want to make sure the small businesses would be able to secure the money quickly. At the same time, the hospitals and the States as well. Yes.
Speaker 7: (07:48)
President Trump wants to give a hopeful deadline of Easter, and even then as far as having business go in as usual would only be a few places here and there. If this goes on for several months, where do you see the economy going as well as even the campaigns going forward?
Kevin McCarthy: (08:09)
Well, I don’t worry about a campaign right now, I worry about the health of America. And that goes to the individuals making sure they’re getting treated, it also goes to the jobs of which they are losing. That’s why this bill needs to move forward. I know the President, the action he took early on, denying the flights from China coming here, saved a lot of lives. I know he’s taking the advice from a lot of experts. I watched just Governor Cuomo today say that the number of being affected in New York is large, but the doubling a few days ago was in two days than it was three days, and today it’s four days. So it is showing that part of this is working. I know the President will take all that advice, and also at the same time make sure to keep us healthy. Get legislation that gives us liquidity and capital to keep people employed, keep small businesses able to survive.
Kevin McCarthy: (08:56)
And at the same time when we get through this crisis, that we could come back economically just as strong. And remember where we were before this virus hit. We were at our strongest point that we’ve been in more than 50 years. Just the month before, more than 270,000 jobs. But right now it’s different. And the one thing I would say President Trump understands how to keep us safe, but more importantly also understands how to grow an economy. And I think he’ll make sure when we get through this safely, we’ll get this economy back just as strong as it was before. Yes.
Speaker 8: (09:25)
Two part question. First part, if there is a voice vote, can you ensure your members when it comes here and stand up and ask for the days and [inaudible 00:09:32]? And second part, is voice voting a longterm solution if House members can’t return to DC for the next few months [inaudible 00:09:41]? Or should there be some discussion about other options like remote voting or voting by proxy?
Kevin McCarthy: (09:48)
Now let me clarify. He asked me a question about unanimous consent. I am not the speaker, I don’t get to determine how we vote here, so I don’t want that to be true that I said this is how we’re going to vote. You asked me about unanimous consent. I don’t think this could pass on unanimous consent. I do believe a voice vote would allow people, you first have to have a debate and a time. Think of the size of the bill that you’re asking members to vote on. They need to have their constituents have the ability to have their voice be heard, whether they’re for it or against it, and why they stand where they do.
Kevin McCarthy: (10:17)
Then if you have a vote, a UC does not give you a vote. A UC says it just passes. A voice vote allows you to have a vote. There are people who has a challenge to get here, so it also gives them an opportunity to put across the desk where they stand on the bill and how they would have voted had they been able to be here. I’m not sure, we’ll have to take that up as we move forward. Where the situation and what’s the opportunity for people to get to Washington DC and have time to debate the legislation. Did you have a second part where those both?
Speaker 8: (10:48)
Yeah. Yeah, the second part was longterm. I mean, if the House members aren’t coming back as a larger group [crosstalk 00:10:55] Do you think you guys would look into remote voting, a proxy vote or other options [crosstalk 00:10:58]-
Kevin McCarthy: (10:59)
Look, longterm, this country is going to be back and we’re going to be stronger. And we’ll be back in the House and we’ll be working. There’s many of us here working now. You watch the Senate, what they’ve been able to do. Right now for the security and health of America, people are home, rightfully so. But I know we’ll get past this. And when I look at what’s happening out there, you look at in the last eight days there has been good more tests on this virus than there were eight weeks in South Korea. Every day we learn something more about this virus, and every day through the ingenuity of our companies, we get stronger. We find ways. It took us two years before we’re in the first trials when it came to a vaccine for SARS. We were already in a clinical trial where individuals are receiving the vaccine. It’ll take us a year or more to get there, but we’re already that far ahead. Every day we find something new, and every day we get a little closer to solving this problem. Yes sir.
Speaker 9: (11:53)
The sticking point for a lot of Democrats in the Senate was oversight over this $500 million [inaudible 00:00:12:00]. They say many of them now that they aren’t happy with the restrictions that they’ve been able to include in the bill. Are you now satisfied with those restrictions?
Kevin McCarthy: (12:10)
Look, I always believe in transparency. I don’t see much change. That wasn’t what the Democrats’ sticking point was. I was in the Sunday meeting. They wanted to change election law. They wanted to make sure the Green New Deal came in. They did get something in, they got another 24 million for the Kennedy Center. That’s what we had to wait three days, that’s what they fought for. Unfortunately, we could have passed this three days ago. The President would have already signed this bill. Resources would already been going out, making sure people are keeping care of their health to these hospitals. That every single member of Congress has heard from their hospitals in their districts, that they have a problem with liquidity. From their small businesses is shutdown. They’d be receiving the ability to have the money to pay their employees so their employees would not be hearing that they were being laid off. I don’t see what they achieved by waiting three more days, but causing more pain to America. Yes, sir.
Speaker 10: (13:05)
One point of clarification, you said you wanted at least 24 hours of the view [inaudible 00:13:09] bill text comes out or [inaudible 00:13:11] Senate gets their vote?
Kevin McCarthy: (13:12)
I use the 24 hours based upon what the speaker had promised ahead of time that she would always give 24 hours. I don’t schedule the floor. That’s why I’m trying to keep our members abreast of what’s in it. I’ve done a number of conference calls, walked them through what we know about the bill, a number of our rankers each day. I would think as much with the bill spending $2 trillion, that 24 hours would at least be appropriate, if not more, for the ability for people to read the bill, have the time to review it. Not delaying it. And then have the debate on the floor.
Speaker 10: (13:47)
So at this point you’d be okay a Friday vote would be appropriate?
Kevin McCarthy: (13:51)
If we have the text. We’re sitting on Wednesday. Yes. [crosstalk 00:13:54] Yeah.
Speaker 10: (13:56)
My more substantive question is, there’s a number of Republican senators who have today pointed out an issue with the bill that some people could get unemployment checks that are bigger than their usual paychecks. And they argue that would disincentive going back to work. [crosstalk 00:14:12] Is that a problem in your view, and would you want to see that changed?
Kevin McCarthy: (14:16)
Yes, that’s a problem. This is not a moment in time when all of America is trying to come together that someone should benefit and get a higher payment than they’re actually earning while they are working, by taking money from a taxpayer to pay you. I don’t think any American would actually want that. So why wouldn’t we just correct that bill so that couldn’t happen? It’s a text problem inside the bill itself, the way it’s written. It’s not hard to correct it. I think all Americans would want that corrected. I don’t think anybody in America would want to get a benefit out of somebody losing their job. Somebody losing their life over the virus. Let alone take advantage of a government during that time. Yes, last question.
Speaker 11: (14:58)
What do you think this says about the preparedness of this country to deal with something on this senior level? [inaudible 00:15:05] businesses closing and the medical community not even having the most basic protective equipment. Is Congress going to have to rethink how we prepare for these sorts of things in the future based on this experience?
Kevin McCarthy: (15:16)
I always believe in continual improvement. We should do it all times. And if I look back to the last five years and you look what Congress has done, we’ve increased funding for National Institute of Health and CDC by more than 40%. We created the infectious disease task force that actually rapid response based upon what happened with Ebola. We constantly improve, but nobody had an idea by how deadly this was. And mainly what I’d say why, China was not forthcoming. Had China allowed our scientists, our researchers and our doctors in at the very beginning, we maybe could have contained it just in China where the rest of the world would not have the punishment going before them.
Kevin McCarthy: (16:00)
You look what we were able to do with Ebola, contain it just in Africa. Because everybody was able to work together. But yes, I think there are many places we can look and improve, and we should constantly doing that. And that is one thing I know when Congress gets back they will do. But right now the number one priority is to make sure they have the resources in the hospitals to care for the Americans who get afflicted with this disease. That’s why this bill should have been passed three days ago. That has not changed the funding within there. Making sure that small businesses can still stay employed, keep the people working, and don’t make them go to unemployment. Keeping them in large businesses that they could stay afloat for the next two months.
Kevin McCarthy: (16:45)
If we get through the two to three months and we can pass this in a healthy way, our economy will be strong just as it was before. So this is a place that government has a responsibility. It’s not a place for someone to take advantage. It’s not a place to change election law. It’s not a place to change your environmental views. It’s a place to focus on the health of your mother, your father, your children, your spouse. It’s the time that all Americans should come together. It’s not a place you should take advantage that you get more payment in unemployment than you would in your job itself.
Kevin McCarthy: (17:19)
Too many people have been hurt. Too many people will suffer. And it’s a time to work together. And I know this is a moment that we all can come together. And I’m willing to work on the other side just as we did from the two bills before this, and this bill itself, in a way that we can pass the bill at the same time that maybe not every member of Congress can come back here, but their voice can still be heard. Thank you very much.