May 2, 2023

Kevin McCarthy Holds News Conference After Addressing Israeli Parliament Transcript

Kevin McCarthy Holds News Conference After Addressing Israeli Parliament Transcript
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Kevin McCarthy Holds News Conference After Addressing Israeli Parliament. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

[inaudible 00:00:00] well done. [inaudible 00:00:13]

Speaker 2 (00:17):

All right, ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to invite Speaker McCarthy and Speaker Ohana to sign this joint declaration and pledge of friendship.

Speaker 3 (00:26):

[inaudible 00:00:37] the second one?

Speaker 4 (00:26):


Speaker 3 (00:26):

Can we have another handshake, please?

Speaker 5 (00:26):

Sure, we will.

Speaker 2 (01:56):

Okay, and now Speaker McCarthy will deliver a few remarks and then take a few questions from the press and please state your name and outlet when he calls upon you for your question. Thank you.

Speaker 6 (02:06):

Steny, you’re going to go too, right? First of all, thank you all for coming. Behind me is a bipartisan group of members of Congress. As I said in my speech, this is the very first parliament outside of America that I went to speak at, and I did it on purpose. Because there’s no greater ally between and no stronger bond to America and Israel. To celebrate 75 years. If we just thought back 75 years, what would Israel look like today and how strong would our bond be, I don’t think anybody envisioned it would be this fruitful and this strong.

As America, we are a better nation because Israel exists. The world is a safer place because Israel exists. I’m proud of the fact that America represented and recognized Israel just 11 minutes after they became a nation. On this trip I did not know of the story of my own hometown, my own bond to a family that I know, the rednecks. That they would train in my hometown of Bakersville to be in the Air Force, to defend and create the city of Israel.

As I said in my speech, 75 years is just a blimp in the long history of Israel. Goes back more than 3,500 years when Moses led the children out of Egypt and then to the Promised Land, to King David, to King Solomon. And to come back. And we want to make sure that we continue to flourish and strengthen. And the great strides that we have made, the Abraham Accords, the region has become safer, economically stronger, and we want to expand those even further.

We look forward to working with any nation that wants to work with us to bring peace and prosperity. And I hope you see that in the bipartisanship, in the way we deal with this. I hope you see the commitment to America, to Israel. You know, I’ve been here many times. Years ago when I became leader, I sat down with then on the other side of the aisle, another leader in Steny Hoyer. And many times the members would come by party over here. And I said, you lead your group, I lead mine. But let’s stop doing that. Let’s go and interact at the same time. And you know what we found when we got here? The bond only stronger and we went to walk out to look at different issues and I found the Californians all teamed together, Republican and Democrat to go see the desalinization plants. That maybe we can take some technology to help our own state.

We’ve watched that working together. So as I stand here with your next speaker at this press conference, Steny Hoyer, this is not our first time here together. We’ve been many times. There was one moment in time that we had about 20% of Congress with us. Look forward to continuing that. And with what we signed today, we look forward to those representatives in the Knesset coming to America and interworking with our Congress.

Because when we look back 75 years from now and they think, “What could Israel and America’s bond look like?” I hope they answer it the same way we answer it today. Bigger, stronger, and better than they ever dreamed to happen. And that’s what happens when we work together. With that, I want to introduce representative Steny Hoyer, who’s been a longtime friend of Israel, a longtime friend of mine. We may come from different parties, but we’re both Americans and we both have the same view when it comes to Israel. Create the strongest bond possible as we move forward. With that, I give you Representative Steny Hoyer.

Speaker 7 (06:13):

Speaker McCarthy, thank you very much for including me in this delegation. Thank you very much for bringing this delegation to Israel, to Jerusalem, to recognize the 75th anniversary. Catherine Drinker Bowen wrote a book about, the miracle in Philadelphia in which she talked about the forging of our constitution. The oldest constitution in the world. If you had said to people in 1948 that you would be celebrating your 75th anniversary, they would’ve said, “If so, it will be a miracle.” And they would be right.

First time I visited Israel was almost a half a century ago, in 1976. I had the opportunity to meet Shimon Peres, who was then I believe defense minister. And I’ve come back decade, after decade, after decade, year after year, after year, and I will return in August of this year bringing with me a large delegation. Now, we won’t be coming at the same time, but what Speaker McCarthy said today about the 400+, that’s 90% of the Congress of the United States who stand on the words, perhaps not exactly, but Speaker McCarthy represented the sentiments. The overwhelming sentiments, the overwhelming commitment to Israel, to its people, to freedom, to peace.

But we know that peace does not come free. We know that courage and commitment and willingness to fight for, and yes, to die for, freedom, justice and equality as it was in 1948 is still necessary. So I’m very pleased to be here. Mr. Speaker, it was an excellent speech. You delivered it well and it expressed the sentiment of our country. [inaudible 00:08:44] I’m sure as does our deputy chief of mission, expressed that commitment to you regularly. But our presence here places an exclamation point on that. The Speaker spoke an exclamation point. And all of us, yes, we’re Democrats and yes, we’re Republicans, but on this issue we are your friend, your ally, and your fellow in fighting for the values we share. We’ve talked about those values at this meeting. Your democracy is robust. It is sometimes messy. Our democracy is robust and sometimes messy.

But together with candor and courage, we will remain the closest of allies. The closest of friends. And beacons for people around the world who seek freedom, justice, equality. At the end of his speech, he asked God to bless America. And he asked God to bless Israel. God blesses both America and Israel with the people who [inaudible 00:10:21] it. The people who are willing to fight for it. Every time I come to Israel, I am inspired, which is why I’ve come so many times, 19 times. In August, it will be my 20th visit to Israel and I’m inspired by the country, but I am so inspired by the people. John Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” No people on Earth represent that commitment to country more than the Israeli people. God blesses Israel through all of you. Thank you very much.

Speaker 6 (11:07):

Thank you, Steny. Let’s open up for questions. You’ve traveled the furthest punchbowl. Go ahead.

Speaker 8 (11:20):

Thank you. One domestic, meaning our domestic, and one international. Any outreach from the administration in regards to next step on the debt limit is my first. And second-

Speaker 6 (11:29):

You cannot travel this far to ask me a debt limit question.

Speaker 8 (11:30):

Too bad. And second, do you plan to invite Netanyahu to address a joint session this year?

Speaker 6 (11:39):

You can’t hear…

Speaker 7 (11:39):

You’re tough to hear because [inaudible 00:11:41].

Speaker 6 (11:41):

Maybe if you [inaudible 00:11:42].

Speaker 8 (11:41):

Sorry. How’s that? Better? Do you plan to invite Netanyahu for a joint session this year?

Speaker 6 (11:47):

Look, I had a great meeting with the Prime Minister. I think the President will make sure just as this close relationship, I know we’ve had a lot of different leaders coming to America. I expect the White House to invite the Prime Minister over for a meeting, especially with the 75th anniversary. I know the President Herzog will be coming soon for a joint session. I know the Prime Minister is already done three joint sessions. I think the President in this one will be the next joint session from Israel first, but yes. And what was your second question?

Speaker 8 (12:17):

Debt limit.

Speaker 6 (12:17):

Debt limit. The President still hasn’t talked to me. I’m a little like Netanyahu.

Speaker 9 (12:25):

Hello, my name is Madeline Hubbard and I’m a reporter with Just the News. Do you think that the US-Israel relationship is stronger or weaker than it was two and a half years ago?

Speaker 6 (12:36):

Look, I think you look at us right here, we’re stronger. You could talk to any individual. We just had a resolution on the floor honoring the 75th anniversary of the Abraham Accords, more than 90%. You watch this Congress that can battle back and forth, but Israel united us together. You look at what we’re here together. You could ask any member back here. I think even walking away from this, they feel stronger today. And I think it’ll be even stronger tomorrow. Yes, sir.

Speaker 10 (13:09):

[inaudible 00:13:08] I have for you a question [inaudible 00:13:10]. Thank you very much. [inaudible 00:13:12] television. I was wondering if you and Mr. Hoyer can comment on… We’ve seen the administration trying to intervene in the justice reform that is going on in Israel. Even Justice Minister Yariv Levin said earlier today that he sees that administration is trying to intervene into the justice reform. What is your opinion, and I would be happy also to hear Mr. Hoyer on this.

Speaker 6 (13:40):

If I could just clarify, are you referring to administration as our administration?

Speaker 10 (13:44):

Biden administration.

Speaker 6 (13:46):

Yeah, no, I’ll let Steny answer as well. Look, Israel is their own nation. Israel can decide what they want to do. But I mean having democracies, you want to have a check and balance. You want to have separation of powers. And I think in all of our conversations, be it the President, be it the Prime Minister, be it members of the Knesset, I think everybody will agree there’s some form of reform that they believe they need to have. But we leave it up to you, your country to figure out how to do that.

It looks as those two sides are coming together, meeting with the President today under that umbrella. I know there’s a lot of difference of opinion. Democracy sometimes looks rough. It could even be within our own parties. I don’t know if you watched my speaker race. Might look a little tough. But you know what? It turns out well. That’s what’s different than when you look at countries that don’t have democracies. Won’t have a say. Won’t have an ability to speak up. So I think that’s healthy. And we look forward to you solving your problems.

Speaker 7 (14:46):

I think the truth is friends give friends advice and counsel. Frankly, I’ve been in the Congress long enough to recall President Netanyahu coming to the Congress and giving us some advice on policy. We do the same, but the Speaker is correct. Ultimately it’s Israelis who will have to make their decision. And the President has convened, as I understand it, a forum to discuss differences. McCarthy was the majority leader of his house, of his party. I was a majority leader of mine. Both of us had to sit down with people of different views and try to bring them together to create consensus. It’s my understanding that’s the process that is going on now. We’ll see the result.

Speaker 6 (15:45):

[inaudible 00:15:46]

Speaker 11 (15:50):

Can you hear me okay?

Speaker 6 (15:50):

Yeah. I’m sorry. I have no card that says names or questions.

Speaker 11 (15:54):

No problem. Mr. Speaker, Batya Levinthal from I24 News. Based both in Israel, the Middle East and America. I wanted to touch on something that you’ve brought up a few times. There’s no doubt the United States was instrumental in aiding and supporting the Abraham Accords. What country have you set your sights on next and does Iran’s reproachment and new partnerships in the region complicate that?

Speaker 6 (16:20):

Look, what Iran does to complicate us is fund terrorism, to fund Hezbollah and Lebanon. Continue to fund a civil war in Yemen. The militias around the region. Try to set missiles to shoot at Israel. That doesn’t help anyone. There is no secret that I think all the region with Saudi Arabia, such a powerhouse, and the growth that could add to the Abraham Accords as well. I think everybody in the region, we’ve looked at the benefits of what’s happened with the Abraham Accords on both sides. Economics with the people, with the tourism and others and with security and safety.

And when you look at the region itself, everyone can benefit. Be it working together, sharing energy. May it be solar, may it be desalinization and others. And I think that benefits every single person in every single country for a better life and for a better future. I think everybody wants that. It’s just working towards getting that. Sure.

Speaker 7 (17:29):

I just want to add, we are Democrats and Republicans here. The Trump administration accomplished the Abraham Accords working with Israel. Israel accomplished that. But we worked with them on that. And to a person we’re supportive of the Abraham Accords. We think that was an excellent policy. We have passed overwhelmingly a resolution by Mr. Schneider that we ought to pursue that. We have a resolution that is pending, asking for a special representatives to make sure that the government is represented to accomplish that objective. And we have made that clear to the Israeli officials who obviously are very enthusiastic about adding additional Arab countries. And they have a great deal of optimism about the ability to do just that.

Speaker 12 (18:25):

Patrick Kingsley, New York Times. In an interview yesterday with Israel Hayom, you were quoted as saying that if President Biden does not invite Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House, you will do so to Congress. Was that quote accurate and does that remain the case?

Speaker 6 (18:44):

Yes. Look, I have a long relationship with the Prime Minister, longest serving Prime Minister of Israel. I think two great nations that have strong bonds should continue and work together. I’ve invited President Herzog to come and give a joint session inside Congress. We’re working out the day. That could come very soon. Hopefully this summer. But I think [inaudible 00:19:12] the same time too, that the Prime Minister should come and meet with members. We had a great lunch, bipartisan lunch. And when we do that, I would invite and sit with Hakeem Jeffries who is the Democratic leader. And we would do it in a bipartisan way that we could sit down with the Prime Minister, discuss the region, discuss the challenges and ways that we can continue to build our bond stronger together. Yes, sir.

Speaker 13 (19:38):

[Russian 00:19:38] Russia. We know that you don’t support the current unlimited and uncontrolled supplies of weaponry and aid to Ukraine. So can you comment, is it possible if in the near future the US policy regarding sending weaponry to Ukraine will change?

Speaker 6 (19:59):

Yeah, I’m not sure… The sound here is not good. Did he say I don’t support aid to Ukraine? No. I vote for aid for Ukraine. I support aid for Ukraine. I do not support what your country has done to Ukraine. I do not support your killing of the children either. And I think for one standpoint, you should pull out and I don’t think it’s right and we will continue to support because the rest of the world sees it just as it is.

Speaker 7 (20:31):

We had the opportunity to talk for just a few minutes at the flag raising ceremony. I share the Speaker’s view. Almost invariably, every time I’m in Israel, every time I wear the flag of Israel and the United States. Today I wear the Ukrainian flag with the flag of the United States. Our country is committed to what the UN charter says.

That people cannot take land or other countries by force. What is happening in Ukraine is criminal. International crime. Women, children, elderly, men are being slaughtered by a very large and very powerful country. Beating a courageous people who in my view must win this war. And I believe the United States of America, as it is committed to Israel’s freedom and security and sovereignty, it’s committed to Ukraine as well. And I believe that will remain a consensus among Democrats and Republicans.

Speaker 6 (21:54):

Yes, ma’am. Or whoever he’s giving the mic to.

Speaker 14 (21:57):

Hi, in the past few years, the State Department has given tens of thousands of dollars to the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which is one of the leading organizations in the protests against judicial reform. And before that protests calling on Netanyahu to quit. Do you think that’s an appropriate use of State Department funds?

Speaker 6 (22:19):

Look, I’m not familiar with this, but if it is as you say, I would say no. But I would have to have more information. I don’t think State Department should play in politics. It’s not why we use our tax dollars. Yes, back over here.

Speaker 15 (22:31):

Speaker McCarthy, Hadas Gold from CNN. Thanks for taking the question. Some of Israel’s allies have expressed deep concern about certain members of this government, ministers and some of the statements they’ve made. One minister was once convicted of inciting racism and supporting terrorism. Are you concerned about the direction of this Israeli government? And if I may, what do you say to world leaders who are concerned the US won’t be able to pay its debts this summer?

Speaker 6 (22:54):

So you had two questions. You were talking about people in the cabinet within Israel. Look, just as we decide upon our own leaders, the people get to decide upon their own leaders. If there’s people in the cabinet, the people disagree, the great thing about a democracy, the people have a right to say and reject or promote. So they can do it. On the debt ceiling. I’m concerned about the debt ceiling. I have been from the moment I became speaker.

That’s why on February 1st I went to see the President and said, “We should sit down and solve this problem.” Look, the debt is a big challenge for America. We’re going to have to come together to solve it. We’ve been through this before. The only way you solve problems is you negotiate. And I’m looking forward to the President changing his mind and negotiating with us.

If that’s not the case, I wanted to make sure that the debt ceiling did get raised and so we raised it before we came here. Not only did we raise it, we believe we need to make America stronger, not just in our debt but in our economy. So we put items in there that would make our economy stronger, especially when it came to energy. We’d also make the global environment better. My friend… Or not my friend, this individual from Russia that asked this question. If we simply replaced Russian natural gas in Europe for one year, we would lower 218 million tons of CO2 emissions.

So not only would we make the environment stronger, we’d make the world safer. God blessed us with that resources and we should be able to provide it. It’d make the economy stronger. We want to cut red tape so we could build things in America again. May have difference of opinion on both sides, but if the Senate has a different opinion, pass a bill. How Congress works, if you just go back to Schoolhouse Rock. House pass a bill, Senate pass a bill, they can go to conference and then the President can then decide. But the one thing I do know, Schoolhouse Rock, they never told you not to negotiate. They told you to work together and that’s what we’re doing. Yes, sir.

Speaker 7 (24:55):

I just want to, because I think it’s important to say, Speaker spoke on Wall Street and he said that defaulting on our debt is not an option. I think we have universal, almost universal agreement on that proposition. And I believe America will not default on its debt.

Speaker 6 (25:27):

We will not pass the debt ceiling, that just raises it without doing something about our debt.

Speaker 16 (25:31):

Speaker McCarthy, Chris Mitchell with CBN News, Christian Broadcasting Network. You made a commitment in your speech that the US will not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. Right now there’s sense here in Israel sometimes they may have to go it alone. Would you recommend to the administration they would join Israel militarily if they have to?

Speaker 6 (25:51):

One thing I’ve always learned is peace through strength. I think the entire region, entire world knows an armed nuclear Iran is not a safe place to be, for the world. And I think it’s very clear with the people behind me as well. We will never stand to allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. I think the rest of the world stands with us on that as well. I thank you for the opportunity to spend time with you. I appreciate the job you do. But more importantly, we all want to wish Israel a very happy 75th anniversary. And we look for 75 more years. Thank you and God bless. Thank you, sir.

Speaker 7 (26:30):

You bet.

Speaker 17 (26:35):

Oh, my God, that’s amazing.

Speaker 18 (26:36):

Who wrote that? Did you [inaudible 00:26:41].

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