Apr 22, 2021
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Weekly Press Conference Transcript April 22
House Minority Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy held a press conference on April 22, 2021. Read the full transcript of the briefing here.
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Kevin McCarthy: (00:00)
Good morning, everyone. How are we today?
Speaker 2: (00:02)
Kevin McCarthy: (00:04)
All right. Just seeing if you’re paying attention, that’s all. All right. Let’s begin. The Democrats know their socialist agenda is not what the country wants. That is why they are moving to dismantle our institutions to hold on to their own power. Last week we watched the Chairman of the House Judiciary, Jerry Nadler, was at the Supreme Court, pushing to add four more justices to the bench, upending a framework that’s been in place since 1869. Yesterday it was reported 100 Democrats to have signed a letter urging the Senate Democrats to abolish the filibuster. In essence, the Democratic party is pushing to silence the voice of millions of Americans. And today, the House Democrats are moving on D.C. statehood, another ploy to consolidate power so they can jam through socialist policies like the Green New Deal, court packing, and defunding the police. They are not even denying that that is their objective.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:02)
If you watched Congressman Raskin, he is on record saying this: “There is a national political logic for D.C. statehood too, because the Senate has become the principal obstacle to social progress across a whole range of issues.” That doesn’t exactly support the representation argument that some try to falsely state. Make no mistake. H.R. 51 is just Democrats’ latest attempt for a power grab.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:31)
While Democrats are trying to control the lives of the American people by force, Republicans are working on showing that we have the right policies to effectively govern. Since March 15th, nearly a third of our conference has traveled to the border to observe the crisis that Biden has created. By contrast, the top Democrat in charge of the border situation has spent a month avoiding the southern border. We have offered common sense solutions to address Biden’s border crisis, but Democrats have chosen inaction. In doing so, I know the vice president, I think isn’t she going to the northern border? Is it tomorrow? Not going down to the southern border? So, because we have so many members that have gone, we’ve put together a combination from each trip, not only from what we have seen, what was reported. So if the vice president will not go, Gary Palmer, our policy director, has put together from each and every trip going through… And I think it’s on your chairs as well, so she can learn firsthand of the crisis that has happened based upon their policy.
Kevin McCarthy: (02:40)
What I continue to see is the actions of the Democrats is more about control of our lives. Control the elections, control another branch of government when you try to pack the courts, controlling further in elections by trying to have D.C. statehood, but avoiding the biggest crisis of all. If you ask Americans what they want, it’s just four simple things we should be focused on. Going back to work, back to school, back to health, and back to normal. That’s what the Republicans are focused on, and that’s what we’ll continue to focus on.
Kevin McCarthy: (03:16)
I know the speaker was here earlier, and I understand she got a question about that she has been in communications with Republicans on what she’s doing on the commission. I have gotten nothing from her. Leader McConnell has received nothing from her. She was even in my office yesterday. She could have dropped the letter off. Nothing from her. So I’m not quite sure who she’s talking to, or what she’s talking about. With that, let me open up for questions. Yes, sir?
Speaker 3: (03:44)
Sir, there is this audit of ballots going on in Maricopa County out in Arizona, and I’m wondering, is there a value in an audit like this at this point, given the election happened so long ago? Also, if there is a material difference in the vote totals in this audit, this ballot audit, what is the way forward, given the election happened so long ago?
Kevin McCarthy: (04:06)
I think audits are always good. Regardless of what comes back within an audit, you could always clean up, or see what you’re doing right, or see if there’s any problem. I always believe in continual improvement, so it’s a state that has the ability to do it. Yes, Jay?
On the January 6th thing, let’s say you did get a piece of paper, and… You know, what she’s laid out is she’s going to give you equal representation, Republicans and Democrats. She’s going to make subpoenas a joint decision between the chair and the vice chair, or a vote of the committee. So, those-
Kevin McCarthy: (04:36)
Okay. I’ve only heard that in Punch News. I have not heard that other places.
Okay, but… Okay, so let’s just pretend you’ve gotten the letter-
Kevin McCarthy: (04:39)
Did I plug you enough by saying that? That was pretty good.
… for the purposes of this question. I mean, could you just give us a little bit of your thoughts about what that would mean?
Kevin McCarthy: (04:46)
Okay. In all due respect, I’m not going to negotiate through Punch News or others.
Kevin McCarthy: (04:55)
Punchbowl News. I’m sorry. I’m getting it wrong. I’m getting it wrong. I just became a subscriber last week. Give me a break.
Speaker 2: (05:01)
Kevin McCarthy: (05:02)
Oh, have we finally?
I don’t know yet.
Kevin McCarthy: (05:04)
Okay. Look, I was very clear with the speaker early on. So was Leader McConnell, and so were those who did the 9/11 Commission. For any commission to work, or for any ability, it has to be in a fair process, equal number of Republicans, subpoena, and a number of others. We said that was the minimum to sit down to negotiate. She hasn’t even responded to us or talked to us, so it’s still a long way away. I think if anything is going to have to happen, she’s going to have to talk with us instead of saying she’s talking to some Republicans. We don’t even know if they’re elected, who she’s talking to.
Speaker 5: (05:35)
Kevin McCarthy: (05:36)
Speaker 6: (05:37)
Leader McCarthy, have you seen the Senate infrastructure proposal, and are you negotiating at all with senators on what [inaudible 00:05:46]?
Kevin McCarthy: (05:46)
I have not seen what the Senate has proposed, but no, we’re working on our own bill. I have talked to one person in the White House about that as well.
Speaker 6: (05:55)
Do you have an idea when that, when your own bill might be proposed?
Kevin McCarthy: (05:58)
Yeah, it will be very soon. Very soon. We’ll show it to all of you. Yeah?
Speaker 7: (06:02)
President Biden plans to address a joint session of Congress next week. Have you been briefed by the Capitol police, any relevant law enforcement affiliates, on the posture for the joint session? Do you have confidence in the ability to make sure that it’s a safe event?
Kevin McCarthy: (06:22)
I feel very sure that it’s a safe event. I feel very sure of our security and safety here. I haven’t been briefed on that in a special meeting, but I have reached out to them, talked to them, prior to other actions that are taking place this week as well. Yes, sir?
Speaker 5: (06:39)
You’re going to Florida this weekend. Are you going to stop down in Palm Beach?
Kevin McCarthy: (06:43)
Not til Sunday.
Speaker 5: (06:44)
Not until… Are you going to stop down in Palm Beach ahead of time, or-
Kevin McCarthy: (06:47)
No. I’m going to Orlando, then I’m coming back because of the Joe Biden speech. So I’ll be there Sunday, Monday, and coming back on Tuesday after the retreat.
Speaker 5: (06:54)
Have you asked the former president if he would come visit while you were there?
Kevin McCarthy: (06:58)
I just spoke to the former president yesterday. I talk to him quite often. Come visit?
Speaker 2: (07:06)
Speaker 5: (07:07)
Kevin McCarthy: (07:08)
Oh. Oh. We don’t put out the invitation to the retreat, but this retreat, you have to understand, is… The way we’re designing it, it’s a policy retreat, where we’re naming seven different task force. We’re working on the issues and building through. We don’t have any federal speakers coming, talking to us in here. I look forward to the president coming back and talking to the conference, but that isn’t this one. This is a policy conference based upon members themselves. Knowing what we have gone through because of COVID and others, this is our first chance to get together. We’re breaking out the entire conference in different breakout sessions with policy. It’s not like retreats in the past, where there’s federal speakers coming in. We don’t have any. But I welcome the president coming and speaking to us.
Speaker 6: (07:56)
I have a question.
Kevin McCarthy: (07:56)
Speaker 6: (07:56)
I want to ask you something that former president George W. Bush said earlier this week. He described the Republican party as “isolationist, protectionist, and, to a certain extent, nativist.” What was your response to that characterization, and do you think you’re doing enough to [inaudible 00:08:09] extreme elements of your party?
Kevin McCarthy: (08:12)
Well, you’ve got two questions in there, right? If I referred correctly? If I looked at the last election, the Republican party in Congress, if you’re looking at Congress, has elected more women than at any time in the history of the Republican party. We broadened our party with the number of minorities as well. Every single Democrat that lost, 15 lost to a Republican woman or a Republican minority. So, the description that I heard you say seems quite different than what reality is playing out today. I think my record stands for itself. I removed Steve King from committee. When I landed from a flight last week, reading Punchbowl News, I put a tweet out right then, “We will always condemn any language and any racism that we see in that process.” Yes?
Speaker 8: (09:03)
You guys have made a big deal about suspension about [crosstalk 00:09:07]?
Kevin McCarthy: (09:07)
Speaker 8: (09:09)
And on those, there’s been an average of 24 no votes. And these are bills that are mostly seen as noncontroversial, which is why they’re on the suspension [inaudible 00:09:20].
Kevin McCarthy: (09:20)
Take two-thirds to pass.
Speaker 8: (09:22)
Some of those topics have been anti-carbon monoxide poisoning, reauthorizing the U.S. Doping Agency for testing Olympians, protecting Saudi dissidents. Do you fear that having a portion of your conference, about a tenth of it consistently voting for things that the rest of the House seems to see as non-controversial, makes your party look more radical?
Kevin McCarthy: (09:47)
No, I think you’re misinterpreting what the argument is about. Because your first place is you’re saying that suspensions votes have become controversial because members of Congress have asked for the vote. Many of them who ask for the vote actually vote for the bill. They just want to be able to have a vote instead of a voice vote. I don’t think that’s controversial, that members get elected to Congress, they’re expected to be here and actually vote. So, that’s not controversial. That’s where you’re misconstruing.
Kevin McCarthy: (10:16)
In any given suspension votes, there’s always some who vote for it and some who vote against it. But suspension votes normally come out of the committees that could actually pass it. It takes two-thirds. You can’t amend it, and others. But you need to speak to each person individually. Sometimes it comes about funding. Is it too much money? Sometimes about something else. There’s always a rationale and a reason behind it. But I think you’re misconstruing what the controversy is. The controversy is should a bill pass the floor of the House by a simple voice vote, but if you’re elected, should you actually vote on the bill itself? And that’s where people have a difference of opinion than some within my conference.
Speaker 8: (11:00)
The no votes for Democrats have been less than one. [crosstalk 00:11:01]-
Kevin McCarthy: (11:00)
Well, that’s the average Democrat vote. The Democrats are in the majority. They control the committees. They set a rule that no bill up until April will go through committees, so they’re pretty much writing it. So, I don’t see a problem. A bill could have a really nice name, but if you ever read through a bill itself, and you give all the power to Democrats, I think there’d be a lot of no votes. Yes? You’ve been very eager today.
Speaker 9: (11:23)
Do you think the Capitol Riot Commission should look at political violence more broadly, even events that had nothing to do with what happened here on January 6th?
Kevin McCarthy: (11:32)
I think there’s a lot of things that happened. It’s not just on January 6th. We had on Good Friday an officer get killed. I think if you’re going to have a commission, you should look at the whole broad spectrums. We just went through a whole summer of riots throughout this city. We should grasp that, as well. Yes?
Speaker 10: (11:50)
Sir, do you have any idea who is going to give the Republican response?
Kevin McCarthy: (11:54)
Speaker 10: (11:55)
Can you tell us?
Kevin McCarthy: (11:55)
Speaker 10: (11:55)
Can you give us a hint?
Kevin McCarthy: (11:57)
Speaker 10: (11:58)
Are you choosing? Is it a House member?
Kevin McCarthy: (12:01)
How its selection goes, the Republican leader in the Senate, the Republican leader in the House work together. And we selected the person more than a month ago. Yes?
Speaker 11: (12:10)
Mr. McCarthy, you said that you spoke yesterday with the former president. What was the gist of that conversation?
Kevin McCarthy: (12:16)
Oh, I talk to him on the phone. We talk quite often. I was talking to him. He was just on television the night before. I was keeping him an update. Julia Letlow just had gotten sworn in just a few days prior. You know, that changes the outcome of the percentage of votes that you need on the floor. He was very instrumental in helping her win in a primary where the Democrats did not. Because in Louisiana, you have these jungle primaries, and we actually won the race earlier. And Julia Letlow, her husband Luke had won the seat, and caught COVID and passed away before being sworn in. She is an amazing individual. Her background, PhD when it comes to education and agriculture. And in the polls, 12 people were running. It’s almost mathematically impossible to win this in a primary, and her polling was about 41%.
Kevin McCarthy: (13:09)
I’d talked to the president prior. It was about two weeks away before the election, and I was talking to him about Julia. He knew Luke as well, and he wanted to get involved. And when he got involved, it kind of shifted the race, and she ended up winning by 65% of the vote. He was very vested in it, like many of our races in the last that we were able to win.
Kevin McCarthy: (13:26)
I mean, just since you’re all reporters, you want to make sure you always have the facts right. I know you asked a question earlier about President Bush, and I’d like to have a discussion with him to understand what his feelings are. I want to know that it’s not within Congress, because this was the first time since 1994 that no Republican incumbent lost. Not one Republican incumbent lost. There’s only been two times in history that the party in power that have the White House lose the White House and actually gain seats, 1892 and 1992. Both times they won the majority two years later.
Kevin McCarthy: (14:00)
There was more than 152 million votes for Congress, and the Republicans were 31,751 votes short of being in the majority. Now, put that with everything and all the questions you asked me the month before the election. The number one question you would ask me is what’s going to happen after I lose 15 seats? Could I still be leader after 15 seats? Not one of you would ever give the premise or the idea that Republicans would even win one seat.
Kevin McCarthy: (14:29)
Then what happened was you listened to Speaker Pelosi, who told you that she was going to not only keep the majority, she was going to win the majority for the next generation. You had Steny Hoyer stand up here as majority leader and tell you they were going to win 15 seats. They had the number right, the party wrong. So I think history is a little different here, and I think what you’re seeing coming out of the floor of this House, that they understood what happened in that last election, and they understand what’s going to happen in the next one.
Kevin McCarthy: (15:01)
So, what they’re proposing is not something that puts more people back to work. When you’re the majority party, you control what bill is going to be H.R. 1, the most important bill of your majority. We had just gone through a pandemic. 10 million people out of work. Millions of children have not been back in school in more than a year. And their H.R. 1 was about changing the election law to protect themselves to continue to get elected. Then they wanted to pack a court. Now they want to change a state. I don’t know how many of those 10 million are not getting elected because they won’t do their work.
Kevin McCarthy: (15:43)
Then they created something on day one by an executive order. They created a crisis at a border. If you go to California, along the border in California, there is a fence that is open. The mechanism broke, but it cannot be fixed because of the president’s executive order. One side’s Mexico, one side’s the United States. So, you have to park a truck there. When I went to El Paso along the border, to a new processing facility that we built under the trump administration, and this… Government, we built it larger than we ever think we’d need it. 98,000 square feet. It met capacity that first day I was there. That meant 120 border agents could not be on the border protecting.
Kevin McCarthy: (16:28)
I went up to monument three to view it for myself, and I asked the border agents a question. They told me that they are capturing people not just from Central America, but are on our terrorist watch list from Yemen. When I announced that at a press conference, you would think policymakers would say, “Oh my God. We need to protect our nation.” Gallego, a congressman on the other side of the aisle, called me a liar, challenged me on Twitter, because he has the same approval for his security clearance as I do. I had another Democratic congresswoman said I wasn’t telling the truth. A day later when they get the truth… Maybe because of COVID and distancing and separation, they haven’t been able to get close enough to apologize. They don’t have to apologize. I just want them to do their job, and protect Americans.
Kevin McCarthy: (17:20)
In that timeframe, we have caught two more people from Yemen coming into America, and they weren’t together. They were on separate days. And I raise this question with you: Why are they coming here? How are they getting in? Who are they meeting with? And what do they have planned? That has nothing to do with changing the election law to control whether I can get reelected. It has nothing to do with pack the court, so they won’t find the laws I pass unconstitutional. It happens to do with the security of this nation. And if the president won’t even meet with us about the crisis, but he puts his vice president in charge, and the vice president refuses to even go see it? We’ll send her firsthand, for those who take their jobs serious and believe in the security of this nation. One terrorist here is too much. I hope you all have a great weekend.