Mar 26, 2020

Kevin McCarthy Press Conference on Stimulus Bill March 26

Kevin McCarthy Press Briefing Transcript March 26
RevBlogTranscriptsCongress Press Conference TranscriptsKevin McCarthy Press Conference on Stimulus Bill March 26

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy held a press briefing today on the House of Representatives’ efforts to pass the Coronavirus stimulus bill passed by the Senate. The House will vote on the bill Friday. Read the full transcript here.

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Kevin McCarthy: (00:01)
In a bill that is meant to assist those with struggling families, our health and our security. Every day matters as we debated a solution that would deliver much needed relief. We just watched in the last week, 3.28 million people laid off. That’s higher, multiplying higher than we ever watched in the financial crisis. The speaker herself just said, “Every day, every week that is wasted on not taking this seriously is a problem.” I could not agree more.

Kevin McCarthy: (00:35)
And yet for days, Democrats stalled this bill. How many people were laid off as the Democrats fought to change the election law or implement the green new deal? How many parents lost sleep wondering how they were going to make the payments in the next month? How many small businesses sat around a kitchen table and had to make that decision they never had to before about laying their employees off that are like family.

Kevin McCarthy: (01:03)
A few minutes ago the speakers stood at this podium and claimed that house Democrats did what she called a jujitsu to change the bill. That is an outright lie. The fundamental portions of this bill has not changed since Sunday. Four months for unemployment was already decided on Sunday. The grant to keep employees hired on small business was already decided on Sunday. The only few additions were funding of things that had nothing to do with the Coronavirus. Was that worth holding it up and more people being laid off, more people losing sleep, more people wondering if they can continue?

Kevin McCarthy: (01:51)
Those are the type of games that have to stop in Washington. She spent time thanking her members on wins. America’s suffering does not care to hear about these superficial and fabricated claims. This is not another day in Congress. This is a time when we have to come together to deliver real results. What Democrats did was a total disgrace. History will not be kind to the days that added to the millions who were unemployed simply because they wanted to change the election law, put a green new deal and thought it was a tremendous opportunity to change the direction and the vision of this country based upon their philosophical beliefs.

Kevin McCarthy: (02:36)
You know, I’m reminded of a story that when president Kennedy decided to challenge this nation to go to the moon in the next decade, when the Soviet Union was ahead of us, he gave this country one mission: to make it to the moon in the next 10 years. A year later, he went to tour NASA and as he was greeting different people who worked there, he came upon a janitor and he shook this janitor’s hand and he asked him, “What is your job here?” The janitor replied, “My job is to put a man on the moon before the decades out.”

Kevin McCarthy: (03:15)
At this moment in time, not just Congress, but every single American from that medical professional that’s risking their lives to treat others or that truck driver who drives at night to try to refill the supermarket. The supermarket worker working through day and night to replenish the shelves to give us the products that we need. They didn’t want to see a delay in this bill because somebody thought they had an opportunity to change an election law to benefit them or hold out because they wanted the green new deal.

Kevin McCarthy: (03:53)
What America wants to see is that we actually care, and I’ve said it before, as a father, a husband and a son, my first responsibility is the health, the safety and the security of this nation and yes, every day and every minute wasted is a disgrace. That’s why I’m thankful that finally the bill we had Sunday, 99.9% of it is the bill that we’ll have tomorrow. And let’s never see somebody try to take a crisis for their own political gain. Let’s put this country first. With that, I’ll open it up for questions. Yes.

Speaker 2: (04:35)
What’s your message to any member who is thinking of objecting to the voice vote tomorrow, which is a procedure that enables [inaudible 00:04:46]?

Kevin McCarthy: (04:46)
Look, I’ll talk to Republicans and Democrats, I’ve heard AOC, I’ve read something where she’s thinking that she might do that. I think that is wrong. We are going to have the opportunity to read the bill. I know it came out late last night. We’ve been keeping our members abreast of where the bill’s at. Having worked on the bill for numerous days, they’ll have the ability to read the text as well. We’ll have debate and then we’ll have a voice vote. I do not think there’s a need for anything else. Yes.

Speaker 3: (05:19)
How many members would you expect, roughly do you think there’ll be…?

Kevin McCarthy: (05:19)
I’m not sure. We have members on both sides of the aisle who have the virus. We have members who are quarantined. We have members who have challenges with airlines that are getting their flights canceled. So I think there will be enough to make sure we get this through, but the floor will look different. The microphones down in the well will not be there. They should not be that close to the clerks who work there. The microphone in the middle across will be taken out. So what you’ll have is those who are managing the bill will be further away. Members can’t sit next to each other and as one person speaks, you’re going to have to come back and clean.

Kevin McCarthy: (05:54)
So if some new member wants to come on the floor, they can’t sit next to each other, but they can be moving in and out. We’ll have to clean the area of where they are. They’ll enter in one door and they’ll have to leave another. We want to make sure we’re providing the health for everybody else inside to make sure government’s working. So there’ll be more than enough. There’s more than enough time to debate. There’s more than enough time to review the bill and it should not be delayed getting to the president’s desk for this week.

Speaker 4: (06:21)
Leader, ever since the details came out about this bill, there’s been a lot of criticism about erroneous items being put into it for the Kennedy center, things like that. But you touched on it a little bit about the voting requirements. Some are saying that the voting requirements that house people want to put in will make it vulnerable for corruption.

Kevin McCarthy: (06:41)
No. People vote voice votes all the time. There’s nothing there. But the speaker did, when she wants to claim about a victory and she wants to ask all of our Democrats what she succeeded on, she added 24 million more dollars to the Kennedy center. I happen to sit on the board. I support the Kennedy center, but this is not the place in time to hold a bill up for the healthcare of America to provide money for the Kennedy center. That was wrong, but that’s what her win was. It didn’t extend any of the unemployment insurance. That was already decided on Sunday. It didn’t change about providing people to stay on the job when in small business. That was already decided. Or a larger, to be able to keep somebody there, the provisions of where we were going.

Kevin McCarthy: (07:22)
None of that was added. She added a union provision and she added money for the Kennedy center. I believe at the end of the day, this should just focus on the health, safety and security of Americans when it came to the Coronavirus. Let’s make sure that those hospitals got the resources. Let’s make sure those who are laid off, they got money to pay their rent so we don’t have a real estate challenge. Or those who are laid off, let’s incentivize the small business owner to actually bring them back on.

Kevin McCarthy: (07:53)
How do you do that? Government is providing them the resources as a grant to rehire them, or the incentive to keep you working as we get through this virus so we’re stronger on the other side. We just watched 3.28 million Americans get a question and an answer they did not want to hear when they went to work. Why we watched Democrats stall a bill that could have solved that problem. Yes.

Speaker 5: (08:20)
A number of States, particularly in New York, are saying that what they are going to be getting is simply not enough. Is Congress looking at a package going forward in the future?

Kevin McCarthy: (08:31)
This is our third package. This will be probably the largest bill anybody in Congress has ever voted for. I would first look at this bill, and it’s focused in four areas that are very smart. The health, so within the hospitals and others. For the States, we don’t leave others out. We bring in nonprofits and others into the assistance. The small business that employs so many millions of Americans that are making that decision where they’re shut down today, that will give them a resources of a loan, but we’ll make the portion of it of a grant for your rent and your employees, incentivizing you to keep those employees working, that those employees will get their paycheck, be able to pay their house payment, be able to buy their groceries. That’s the key.

Kevin McCarthy: (09:18)
Now, if you’re off, the uninsured, that first week, you usually had to wait. No, you’ll get that payment, we’ll pick that up. Federal government even puts in another $600. So no, it does a lot in the process to get us through this time period as we fight this virus. Yes.

Speaker 6: (09:35)
To follow up on that, because it sounds like you think this is enough. How do you assess whether it’s enough for the American worker, that this covers them against all this?

Kevin McCarthy: (09:43)
Well, the first thing you have to do is you have to let the bill work. Before I could answer the question, is it enough? We’ve done three different bills. The first one was a supplemental that you made sure you got the resources to NIH and CDC, the extra that they needed. The next bill actually went in to make sure the workers and the testing was paid for, that you can be able to have their health. Those are just now being implemented. Now you have more than $2 trillion going into the economy to the areas that we know are needed, and you’re sitting here talking about needing another bill. If these bills are done correctly, let them put them to work to get through this. If something’s needed in the future, let’s make that decision, but let’s not make that decision without allowing these bills to be put into the economy. Yes.

Speaker 7: (10:29)
It might be too early to talk about this, but do you envision this experience triggering any permanent changes in the house? For example, remote voting, maybe continuing social distancing even when things calm down?

Kevin McCarthy: (10:45)
I mean, only time will tell. Hopefully through this we’ll learn to wash our hands more. Flu season will be less maybe because of that, but I hope that one thing that we will seriously look at as a Congress, the supply chain. So I mean, the president’s talked about it quite some time, but people did not realize. As we’re working trying to get the PPEs for the hospital, China controls too much of our supply chain. China has too much control of the ingredients that will go into our medicines. Too much control of our medical equipment. Too much control of our critical minerals.

Kevin McCarthy: (11:23)
As a nation, we should redirect that and make sure that we can take care of ourselves and not be put in this situation again. Had China not lied to the rest of the world and would have allowed individuals, other researchers, our doctors, and our best scientists, we could have contained this into China. Now it’s throughout the world where thousands of people are dying just because they were worried about a reputation instead about the health of their own people. Yes.

Speaker 8: (11:54)
The Senate has said that they’re going to be out until April 20th as anticipated. Does the house have a similar schedule? Will that be announced when the house [crosstalk 00:12:03]?

Kevin McCarthy: (12:03)
I’m not the majority, I don’t get to determine that. I’ve had many conversations with the majority leader and with the speaker and we talked about best ways of moving this bill forward. They get the final decision. But I agree with what the majority leader decided at the end of the day. Allow debate and debate will look different on that floor as I said from the physical places of where you debated, but it gives the member the opportunity to discuss the bill and what’s in it.

Speaker 8: (12:31)
If I could follow up on that, the speaker said that there’ll be remote working on another package possibly. Do you anticipate also working remotely, will you be in Washington, what are you encouraging your members to do?

Kevin McCarthy: (12:42)
Well, one thing I’d encourage them to be home and take care of their communities. That we got this bill through and make sure that it works well, make sure we’re keeping people employed, making sure the hospitals have what they needed through the resources here. On this bill itself that we win, a lot of our members worked with the Senate counterparts and we did a lot of conferences like that. I wouldn’t be so quick to say you have to write something else. Let’s let this bill work. It’s just as long as we let the other two bills work as well and whatever decision we have to make going forward, let’s do it with knowledge. Let’s do it with the experience of what’s on the ground at that moment in time. So we’re actually aiming before we make the bill go forward anything new.

Kevin McCarthy: (13:25)
But we could work remotely when it comes to some ideas, but at the end of the day, Congress will be back here. Will you be out for awhile? Probably, but this nation will come back together. Just as Kennedy had challenges go to the moon, and the ingenuity, the integrity of who we are and the inspiration as a nation, we got there. We will get through this as well. Think for one moment of the new things that are happening. It took us more than two years to be in a clinical trial for a vaccine for SARS. We are already in that clinical trial for a vaccine to this virus. The number of new medicines and therapies that are coming online. The FDA working in a whole new capacity, but bringing opportunities to us from testing and others. We will be stronger at the end of the day to compete against anything else like this in the future. Yes.

Speaker 9: (14:22)
Kind of on the same note but kind of on a different one, you said that a number of your members had worked with members of the Senate putting this package together and you know that one of them was Congressman Meadows who is still a member of your caucus, but he said he’ll be resigning at the end of the month. Do you have any statement on that?

Kevin McCarthy: (14:37)
Well, I wish Mark Meadows very well. He was a very good member. He’ll make a great chief of staff and I think having him as chief of staff only makes the relationship stronger for the house and Senate with the White House. He’s had great relationships on both sides of the aisle too, so it’s a benefit to all.

Speaker 10: (14:54)
One last question.

Kevin McCarthy: (14:55)
Yes, go right ahead.

Speaker 10: (14:56)
I just want to follow up on that as far as John Meadows, but as far as the packages are concerned. Now, a number of States which have essentially just shut down all businesses across their States and for an indefinite period-

Kevin McCarthy: (15:11)
That’s not the essentials.

Speaker 10: (15:12)
Well, we’re talking about indefinite periods of time. How do you expect for any of these packages to essentially work where you have all of these businesses essentially across these States that are shut down, people don’t know when their businesses are going to be able to start up again and how is that going to essentially work with any of these packages when people are essentially just not working, period and they’re essentially clueless as to when their businesses are going to be able to open up again?

Kevin McCarthy: (15:38)
That’s a fabulous question. I hope everybody listened to that question. What do you do while States are shutdown, small businesses are ordered to stop working and people are questioning whether they’re going to get paid. Well, the Care Act is going to make a major difference about it. They don’t have to do something about it, it’s going to come right to them. Those individuals by income level are going to see a direct payment from government. So they’re going to get resources. Those small businesses are going to be able, even though they’re shut down, provide that loan and that portion of a grant to hire those people who are not working right now but still will get paid for the next two months by the federal government, they won’t have to pay that back.

Kevin McCarthy: (16:18)
So if they take 100% of those employees back, they’ll get 100% grant. They’ll be able to pay their rent. So there’s not a crisis when it comes to the landlord and others and way into the banks. Those larger business, they’re going to be able to get a secure loan. They got a tax advantage in there that the federal government will help them pay up to almost 50% of that employee for the next two months. So while we are shut down and while they are wondering, that’s why this bill is so important. All those elements I just spoke about, those were all agreed to back on Sunday. Now they’re delayed another week, but a week is a lifetime when you’re shut down. That’s the difference. Yes.

Speaker 11: (16:59)
Where do you stand on this emerging debate on how soon we should start to ease up on the social distancing and let people get back to work?

Kevin McCarthy: (17:08)
You know what, I would look at it every single day. I watched governor Cuomo look at doubling every two days to three days now to four days. So what we’re doing is working. The determination of when you come out of that, I would follow the numbers, when it is safe. But the one thing we know is what we’re doing is working and we will eventually get out of this. I don’t know that you can predetermine the exact date. I would look at the data and I know that’s what the president is doing. Thank you all very much.

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