Aug 24, 2021
Kevin McCarthy House Floor Speech Transcript August 24: Criticizes Biden, Democrats for Afghanistan Response
House Minority GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy gave a speech on the House floor on August 24, 2021. He criticized the Biden Administration’s response to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Read the transcript of his speech remarks here.
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Kevin McCarthy: (00:00)
I thank the gentle lady for yielding time. Madam speaker, I rise in opposition of today’s rule. Madam speaker, before I came here I was listening to the debate. I listened to Congressman Gallagher, a veteran, come to the floor and talk about an idea that he has. An idea that here we are, Afghanistan collapsing and thousands of Americans in Afghanistan trying to get out. Here we are called back for a special session. All his previous question would say is that we’d have to have a report every day on those Americans. That we wouldn’t pick a timeline until the mission is
Kevin McCarthy: (01:01)
finished that people would be able to be brought back. As I listened to his passioned speech, I waited for the response. I listened to my friend on the other side, he respects Mr. Gallagher, but he could not turn the floor over because if the floor was turned over to Republicans, instead of changing the election law, spending $5 trillion, they would put the American public first. God forbid we would do that.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:33)
Madam speaker, I heard the Democrat on the other side say we could not turn the floor over to Republicans to let the American public know how many Americans were there. Devastating, devastating to allow that to happen. This week, the House is in session for the first time since Kabul fell to the Taliban. What’s happening in Afghanistan is a disaster for America’s security and credibility. Not for just today, not for next week, but for decades to come. Other countries are questioning whether we have the resolve to honor our word because of the bungled withdraw. President Biden magnified this damage over the past week by hiding at Camp David, delivering incoherent speeches and reported to failing to contact a single foreign leader for 36 hours. Today he signaled an unconditional surrender to the Taliban, promising to leave in just seven days. We just had a classified briefing for all the members. I don’t believe any member walking out of there believes in seven days we could get thousands of Americans out.
Kevin McCarthy: (03:04)
That’s why we can’t relinquish the floor to the Republicans to actually get a report on it. Madam speaker, the president’s actions gave the impression of an incompetency and a declining power. This week we learned that the Taliban seized millions in US weapons, making them stronger than they were 20 years ago. Madam speaker, it is reported the Taliban now has more Black Hawk helicopters than Australia. Military missions should be dictated by our nation’s interest not by our enemies or arbitrary timelines. And right now there’s no greater national priority than getting our people home. But I just heard from the Democrat on the other side that we could not relinquish the floor to allow Mr. Gallagher, a veteran’s previous question to come up, because that would be dealing with the nation’s interest right now. No, we need to deal with the Democrats priorities right now. And as I look around, I see our allies responding to this crisis with the seriousness it deserves.
Kevin McCarthy: (04:24)
Madam speaker, the speaker called us back here. We’re not the only body of power that’s been called back. In Britain parliament returned from its summer’s recess. You know what they’re doing though? Working on emergency session on this current situation to get their citizens home. In France, President Macron is trying to rally the UN Security Council. This House should be correcting this disastrous record left by this commander in chief and proving that America never abandons our people or shrinks from defending our interests. Madam speaker, that’s not what I heard on this floor. I heard a direction, madam speaker, by the Democrat leading and charging of this right now that we could not relinquish the floor simply to Mr. Gallagher’s request of letting America know how many Americans are there and they’ll put a timeline until every American comes home. We should be doing nothing else on this floor until every single American is home. Democrats called us back for an emergency session, this first session, since Kabul fell to the Taliban.
Kevin McCarthy: (05:45)
But faced with a national security and credibility crisis in Afghanistan, they have done nothing to plan to address it. We were allotted 90 minutes and, oh my God, we went over 15 minutes, but we made sure then the Democrats had to shut that meeting down. That members of Congress could ask no more longer questions because we needed to get back to the floor right now. When history writes about this day, they’ll talk about the entire week. They’ll talk about last night, how Congress worked late into the night, actually ordered food to come in, was in the speaker’s office for late hours. Spent their day calling other members, twisting votes. We had reports that the president called people, that former presidents called people, that people were threatened, that their spouses were threatened about jobs. We were heard that they were threatened even in their own campaign. But what were they threatened about? Was it anything to deal with Americans coming home? No, it was about this rule. It’s about what we’re bringing up right now.
Kevin McCarthy: (06:52)
The reason we had to stop our briefing because we had to come to the floor to deal with this. So what are we talking about? $5 trillion of hard-earned taxpayer money being spent on more big government. Changing election law to benefit one party over another. Outlawing IDs even though the majority of America wants it. Nothing about that $5 trillion will spend $1 bringing America home or making us safer. What’s the definition of a public servant? I would say doing something for the good of the others. Madam speaker, the party today of the majority and the Democrats here, their interest is themselves. To spend up late into the night while other nations are working to bring their citizens home. I want to know, madam speaker, as people walk into this floor and vote on this bill that they worked late into the night on, I want them to think about one thing.
Kevin McCarthy: (08:13)
I want them to think about those American families in Afghanistan that were late into the night not knowing if they could even make it to the airport, not knowing if they’ll even get out and wondering if the public servants were thinking of them. The sad answer is the majority was not. They were thinking of themselves. That it’s too important to deal with anything else. Madam speaker, there are allies that sitting in Afghanistan. Why did they go? They went to defend America because America was attacked out of the respect and character of who we are. This body elected and respected around the world in a time of crisis doesn’t speak of it, does an act about it, but only acts for themselves. And in a moment of time of using the rules to allow the opportunity to change its course, just correct them when they were wrong, the voice of the other side says, no. We could not turn the floor over to allow America to know how many Americans are there or to get a report on it.
Kevin McCarthy: (09:32)
Just as they bang the gavel down, the 90 minutes have come, you’ve asked enough questions. You can ask no more because we must get to the floor to pass $5 trillion and change election law. So the Democrats believe they can buy and change an election. Madam speaker, if there’s any moment in time to put an election aside, there’s any moment of time to put politics aside, I would’ve thought today was the day. I would have thought being called back that we could focus on what the rest of the world is focused on. So when the speaker came to the floor to speak, I turned my volume up. Surely she was going to speak of this day. Surely she was going to talk about the Gold Star Families. Surely she was going to thank those veterans and those who have served here, knowing what they are going through and what they’re watching. You know what she said? Speaker Pelosi actually said, “Today is a great day of pride for our country and Democrats. Today is a great day of pride for our country and our Democrats.”
Kevin McCarthy: (10:51)
Let me be very clear, it is not. It’s an embarrassing day for our nation. We are three weeks away from the 20th anniversary of 9/11. And this is what history will write. This is what you did with your majority. This is what you control. This is what you made sure you would not release the floor for the idea that Americans can find out how many are stuck in Afghanistan or how they’re going to get home. I hope you’re proud of that because this is what your leadership has done, this is what your leadership worked on, this is what the power of the twisting of the arm has delivered. The United States of America is not going to let terrorists dictate when and how we get Americans out. I firmly believe what has been said many times and specially by Abraham Lincoln, government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from earth.
Kevin McCarthy: (11:56)
If you believe that too, and you are watching, I ask that you pick up your phones and you call, especially if you’re a Democrat, because I do not think the leadership here represents you with what they’re asking for. I know your love of this country. I know the thousands upon thousands of Democrats who served their nation, who served in Afghanistan. I know those who Americans are in Afghanistan are not just of one party. I would like to see both parties work on the issue what’s really before us. Can you not put politics aside? Can you not care for one moment that you could rig an election to get elected? Can you not care about making government so large that you’re going to bring more inflation and trillions of dollars? That’s what you spent last night on. That’s what you spent the whole time on. That’s what you brought us in for. That’s what you closed the briefing on.
Kevin McCarthy: (12:53)
That we couldn’t ask any more questions. Time is up. That’s what you’re fighting so hard that a veteran that served his country asked for a previous question to simply say, we can get a report of how many Americans are still there. And that we do not pick a date when we get out until every American is out. But I heard the leadership on the other side said we cannot do that. We have to change the election law. We have to spend 5 trillion. This is what we came back for in a special session. This is what our mission is. So everyone who votes for this rule today, that’s what you’re voting for. That’s what you’re championed. That’s what history will write. And no, it is not a good day. Maybe in your caucus you think it’s a great day for you and the Democrats. It is an embarrassing day to America, it’s an embarrassing day for this floor and it’s embarrassing that you would even move forward with it. I yield back.