May 13, 2021
Kevin McCarthy “Back the Blue Bike Tour” Press Conference Transcript May 13
House Minority Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy held a “Back the Blue Bike Tour” event on May 13, 2021. Read the transcript of the press conference with remarks from law enforcement here.
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Leader McCarthy: (00:00)
Honored to be with you at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. And to be joined by Marcia Ferranto the CEO of the Memorial Fund, and also Chief Gallagher and a number of members. As you noticed this morning, members are dressed a little different. Some of us went out early this morning and rode with the Capitol Police, but everybody wanted to pay their respect and be a part. During that ride I had some time to reflect on the National Police Week about the incredible work our men and women in blue do for us and why they do it. I’m reminded of the words of the San Diego police officer from last year, who said, “I didn’t do this job to be liked every day. I didn’t do it to become rich. I did it because I want to be out there making a difference and helping people.”
Leader McCarthy: (00:51)
And I know this has been a rough year. It’s been a rough couple of years for men and women in blue. The Republican Conference want to do not only say, “Thank you.” We want to be a part of it and be with you. There are a number of members with me today who wore the uniform. They know what you’re going through, they know the struggles that you have. But we want you to know each and every day that we thank you for your work. We thank you for being there at the time of need. We thank you when you come and save somebody, even if they’re not appreciative. And we thank you for all the support. So to all the officers, please know, you are making a difference. You are helping people. We, the American people appreciate your tireless work. If you don’t hear it in the times of struggle, if you don’t hear it in the times of someone may be protesting, yelling on your face, know that you’re loved, respected, and appreciated.
Leader McCarthy: (01:53)
Moments ago, I spent the morning and biked here with members of the United States Capitol Police, something I’ve done quite regularly with Joe, but in the last year, not as much. I have the privilege of working with these men and women every day. And I can tell you they worked tirelessly to keep us safe every single day. There’s members who personally have the experience of having their life saved, as Capitol Police officers have given the ultimate sacrifice. Many of the members here were laying wreath to those who were back home, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for people they don’t even know, but because they wanted to make a difference. We all want to show our gratitude for those who protect our communities each and every day, not just during the National Police Week, especially when you think about the sacrifice that our law enforcement officers and their loved ones make to the communities to keep us safe.
Leader McCarthy: (02:48)
Every year, hundreds of law enforcement officers are killed in the line of duty. Their names are added to the National Police Memorial here in Washington, DC, as an enduring tribute to the fallen and a place of comfort for those who are left behind. This year on its 30th anniversary, 394 more names were carved into this marble wall of heroes. Pause for one moment and think of that number, 394 more names. Those could be mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children that are not coming home. It’s one of the deadliest in the history for law enforcement. We pray for all the heroes and families listed on the Memorial Wall. I want to pay special tribute. There were four from the Capitol Police personnel added, and there’s going to be three more added next year. Sergeant Chris Eney, Detective John Gibson, Officer J.J Chestnut, Sergeant Clinton Holtz, Brian Sicknick, Billy Evans, Howard Liebengood.
Leader McCarthy: (04:05)
This is a year the Capitol Police have not seen before. Every morning you wake up, you go out, you don’t realize what the day holds. We thank you for that, getting up each and every day. We thank you for the days would you come in with the Capitol or a baseball game when shots are fired, you go forward. You know, there’s a wreath over there that Michael Turner laid, he had a shooting in his district, but in less than of [Michael Sierra 00:04:43], I think it was 39 seconds, this officer stopped a person that had a hundred rounds and already killed nine people. President Trump came to the district and he went to the officer and he talked about the training. The officer’s quote back is, “You don’t train courage.” Which is something police officers have to run into the line of fire and bullets.
Leader McCarthy: (05:10)
We thank you for doing that. I’m proud to lay two wreaths, to honor the fallen officers from my district, as well as the members of the Capitol Police who made the ultimate sacrifice. My hometown, David Joseph Nelson, whose name is on this Memorial. Now more than ever Congress must show our gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our fallen heroes. We should not talk about defunding of the police, we should talk about providing what they need to protect us. We should not make politics out of security and safety for our communities. We should respect those who risk and give their life just so the community they can make a difference in. That is why I’m pleased to stand here today with my fellow House Republicans, we know the issue before us and we are ready and willing to act to support law enforcement, not just today, but every day, and just as we have in the past. With that, I would like to call up and first start with Chief Gallagher.
Chief Sean Gallagher: (06:23)
Good morning. I’m acting assistant Chief Sean Gallagher of the US Capitol Police. I first want to thank Leader McCarthy, the members of Congress behind me, as well as the entire congressional community and all the members of Congress for their overwhelming support of the United States Capitol Police. This year has been a very tough and challenging year for the US Capitol Police, for all of our officers, and for the families of our officers. And we appreciate the support that has been given to the US Capitol Police. We will get through these tough times. And this week we honor all of our fallen officers and we will continue to honor them each and every day, them and their families in everything that we do to protect the congressional community and all the members of Congress.
Chief Sean Gallagher: (07:08)
We appreciate everybody’s support, and we appreciate everything that has been given to the US Capitol Police from the members of Congress and the overwhelming support that has been given to us. It means a lot to the US Capitol Police, not only to myself, but also to the officers and to the families of all of our officers who have been through so much this year. So thank you.
Leader McCarthy: (07:28)
Thank you Chief. I’d like to call Marcia up CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Marcia Ferranto: (07:41)
Thank you, Leader McCarthy, distinguished visitors, and guests. This is one of the most solemn days for us here at the National Law Enforcement Memorial. And the fact that you all made it your priority to start your day with us is truly appreciated. We are preparing this evening at 8:00 PM to read the names of 394 fallen officers. One of the deadliest years in history for law enforcement. 182 of those names are COVID deaths, confirmed law enforcement COVID deaths. We will be reading the names of law enforcement officers who didn’t have the choice to shelter in place, but put their lives on the line to make sure our communities were safe. So thank you. Thank you, Leader McCarthy for making this your priority this morning.
Leader McCarthy: (08:54)
Thank you Marcia. Appreciate it. I’d like to call up Representative Pete Stauber. Former officer, he was also shot in the line of duty as well. Pete?
Pete Stauber : (09:08)
Thank you, Leader McCarthy for that introduction and for everything that you do to support America’s police officers along with all my colleagues here today. I am proud to be standing here today to publicly thank those who proudly wear the uniform, and to honor those brave officers who have fallen in the line of duty. As a former police officer, I know firsthand how dangerous the job is. I know what it is like to put on the uniform, kiss your family and kids goodbye, and head to work uncertain what type of call or situation you will encounter that day. It is a hard job, it is a noble job, and it’s an honorable profession. I know that the men and women who serve and protect our communities each day do an excellent job. In my 23 years with the Duluth Minnesota Police Department, I served with some of the most compassionate and honorable people I have ever had the privilege to meet. They became police officers because they love their community and they want to make a difference. That’s why it absolutely breaks my heart when I hear anti-police rhetoric and calls to defund the police.
Pete Stauber : (10:56)
This kind of rhetoric is demoralizing and dangerous as it puts officers increasingly at risk. This reckless rhetoric cannot be tolerated. As a former police officer, I am so grateful for the chance to serve in Congress during this period and stand in defense of my brothers and sisters in blue. I will always have your back and soul with my Republican colleagues. We will never forget the sacrifices that you have made and the sacrifices that your families have made. So thank you for protecting us from those who wished to do us harm. Thank you for bettering our communities. Our country is exceptional because of your courageous service. May God bless each and every one of you and God bless your families. And God bless the fallen officers and their families. We will never forget them. Thank you.
Leader McCarthy: (12:12)
Now I’d like to call up Congresswoman Kat Cammack.
Kat Cammack: (12:15)
Good morning. Hoo Pete. I’d like to talk to you today, not as a member of Congress, but as the wife of a first responder. Right now, my husband’s on his way to work. He’s headed to a SWAT call-out. Hoo sorry. He’s on his way to a SWAT call-out, and this is just a normal everyday for us. But the feeling in the pit of my stomach never changes. To the families of the first responders of our elios that are having very uncomfortable, scary conversations at the dinner table. Thank you. I know that those conversations are not getting any easier. I know, because I’ve had them. To my colleagues who stand here today, thank you, thank you for having the backs of our elios and their families. To my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who have been calling for the defunding of our men and women in uniform, please consider joining us for an educational ride along. I think it would be very illuminating.
Kat Cammack: (14:23)
Thank you to all of the communities who have stood strong against the push for taking the critical life-saving equipment off the backs of our men and women. Despite tremendous pressure in the media, from local and national leaders, thank you. And to the families of all those that have a name on the wall behind us. Please know that there is an army, a thin blue line army behind you, who thinks of you every single day. And for every man and woman who has given their life in the line of duty, please rest easy and know that we’ve got the watch. Thank you.
Leader McCarthy: (15:15)
Thank you Kat. And as I said, there’s a number of members who served, but we’re in uniform before. Congressman John Rutherford was the sheriff. If you ever spent time with enemy’s community he may be the member of Congress, but he’s never left being the sheriff. So I want to bring the sheriff up.
Kat Cammack: (15:31)
You know, as we remember the men and women whose names are inscribed on these walls this morning, I want to talk about their life and their death. And I’m going to share with you the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, he said, “The purpose in life is not to be happy. It’s to be useful. It’s to be compassionate. It’s to be honorable it’s to have and make some difference that you lived and that you lived well.” I’m here to testify the men and women on these walls, the men and women wearing that uniform lived well and they are living well. God bless them, and God bless all of our first responders. Thank you.
Leader McCarthy: (17:00)
I’d like to end with one way. For all those names on the wall, but more importantly as well to the families that are sitting there alone. And to everyone wearing a uniform, I want you to know, you’re appreciated thing. Let’s give them a round of applause. With that, we’ll open it up for questions. Yes. Ma’am?
Speaker 6: (17:23)
Leader McCarthy yesterday outside the White House, you said, you don’t think anyone disputes the legitimacy of the election. Well, just yesterday in the committee hearing you had three members talk about the January 6 being perhaps peaceful. You had two members of Congress in the villages over the weekend saying that Joe Biden did not win the election. That President Trump is still the president and in every single poll, a majority of Republican think that Joe Biden did not legitimately win the election. So do you stand by that statement that you don’t think anybody questioned the legitimacy of the election and how do you square that?
Leader McCarthy: (17:59)
You know, I appreciate your question. We’re here to honor, on a National Police Week. There are times for politics and there’s times for not. But with all due respect, I think I’ve answered your question, but I’d like to honor the national officers, the men and women who lost their lives and those who are protecting us right now. Yes Sir?
Speaker 6: (18:18)
Well, what do you say to the three members yesterday at the committee hearing because they talked about January 6th.
Speaker 7: (18:22)
What are you going to do to address some of the members and representatives [inaudible 00:18:23]?
Leader McCarthy: (18:23)
With all due respect, I was right here with Congressman Clyde laying a wreath for a fallen officer outside of his district. Yes.
Speaker 8: (18:44)
Leader McCarthy, there is a Metro Police Officer named Michael Fanone who was injured during the insurrection. And he’s been trying to call your office and get ahold of you and talk about his experience.
Leader McCarthy: (18:53)
I just found out about this yesterday that he had called the office and he called over the other office and they gave him the name of my scheduler scheduled a meeting I’d like to meet with him.
Speaker 8: (19:02)
So you’d like to meet with him?
Leader McCarthy: (19:04)
Oh yes. Most definitely.
Speaker 8: (19:06)
And I have another question just reiterating, these members say that the insurrection was like a Capital tour, one of them is here with you. I’m curious what you feel about that when clearly, you know, people died during the insurrection.
Leader McCarthy: (19:20)
What happened on the 6th, was atrocious went through. When I look at the writers that came in, those people should be held accountable to the rule of law. And that’s exactly what’s happening. Yes. Yes.
Speaker 8: (19:32)
And what about the members that are saying this?
Speaker 9: (19:34)
Yes. So what can Americans do moving forward to show support and love for the police at a time where many in the mainstream media have been very hostile towards the police?
Leader McCarthy: (19:50)
Yep. You know, the first thing I think people should do is be able to respect the job that the men and women do every day. I don’t think people walking out that talk about cutting the police, the struggle they have is even greater today than it was years before. We saw one of the deadliest years that we haven’t seen where they lost their lives in protection and security and safety. We have people across America afraid to go out in their communities, afraid to be out at night. I think we should all take a very deep breath and understand the men and women come from all walks of life. And they all do it for one reason, kind of what the sheriff talked about, making a difference. And I think the respect we should give them goes above and beyond. And I don’t think we should be cutting them.
Leader McCarthy: (20:38)
I think we should help and support and give them the training that they need in the community policing. That’s something that we put forward in our commitment to America. And we’d actually add money, more body cameras, more community training, more community policing. With that, in a week that we want to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. Many of us never knew them, but they ran in when the bullets were being fired. They came when we called, even if you didn’t support them and they’re there to protect you to make your community safer. Thank you and have a good week. Thank you, thank you, appreciate your support.