Jul 23, 2020
Kevin McCarthy Press Conference Transcript July 23
House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy held a press conference on July 23. He said in reference to the incident between Rep. Yoho and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez: “I don’t understand that we’re going to take another hour on the floor to debate whether the apology was good enough or not. He said, ‘I was sorry.’ He said, ‘I’m sorry to the Congresswoman from New York.’ But the Democrats won’t take an hour to debate the accountability of China”. Read the transcript here.
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (00:01)
Good morning, everyone. Millions of lives and livelihoods have been impacted because of the coronavirus. In my own district, we are experiencing a recent surge in cases. These are our families, our neighbors, and our friends that have been hurt because of this problem. When I think of their pain, I think of the damage China’s responsible for inflicting on countries around this world and right here at home. China’s deception has directly led to American’s deaths. China covered the truth about the virus. China hoarded personal protective equipment and tried to extort other countries for political leverage. Now China’s trying to hack our vaccines, which will harm our ability to serve the world and solve this problem.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (00:55)
China is no friend to the United States. And that fact is clear to everyone except the Democrats. China tries to undermine the United States with every chance they get. Let’s just look at the recent headlines. The Chinese consulate in San Francisco is harboring a Chinese military researcher wanted by the FBI who was accused of visa fraud and who lied about her connection to the Chinese military. We recently discovered the photos of her and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. We also found out that they have been spying and committing espionage from within our own borders in a consulate in Houston. They have now set fire to documents and would not even let the Houston Fire Department in. Makes you wonder what they are hiding or even what they are burning.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (01:45)
A few months ago, US authorities arrested a Chinese researcher in Boston and caught him with trying to smuggle 21 vials of stolen biological research back to China. Just last month, they caught another individual at LAX trying to fly back. And then we just found in January of this year top professor at Harvard being paid by China. Think of that. The very country that created this problem is now trying to sabotage our effort to save the lives.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (02:21)
That is why I introduced legislation earlier this week to hold these criminals accountable. My question to my Democrat colleagues is simple. Are you willing to step up to stop these escalating threats from China? Or will you continue to defend the actions of the Chinese Communist Party? Their actions and words continue to show Democrats have a China problem. Why did Democrats back out of a bipartisan taskforce after working for almost a year to get one stood up? Why did Democrats vote against a common sense piece of legislation to punish those who are trying to hack our vaccine research on the very day that we arrested two Chinese for doing it? Or let’s watch this, the chairman of the Armed Services, Adam Smith.
Adam Smith: (03:12)
One of the gentleman’s arguments was that China hid the true risk of the virus from the American people. And yes, that is terrible of China to do that, but it’s not actually their job to warn the American people. It’s the president’s job to warn the American people.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (03:32)
Why does the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, say that it’s not actually China’s job to warn the American people or the world? They lied to us. They lied about the virus and thousands of people have died. And now the Democrats do not believe it’s the Chinese fault. Why does the speaker promote their propaganda by trying to blame the President of the United States for the Chinese Communist Party lies, even calling the virus in the name of our president? Why did Joe Biden just yesterday say it’s wrong to hold China accountable?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (04:21)
When I look around the world from Italy to the UK to Australia, no one else is saying that. They have felt the pain of the lost lives. They have seen the heartache of the economic damage that has been done, and they understand the lie that China has given. If we want our children and grandchildren to live in the same country we are blessed to live in, it is time Democratic leaders in this country wake up and stop cowering to the Chinese Communist Party. The stakes are too high for an apology tour and leadership by appeasement.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (04:55)
My final question would be what does the Chinese communist party have on the Democrats? Why can’t they hold them accountable? On a day that they were arrested for hacking in to the companies to steal a vaccine to save millions of lives, not just for America but around the world, the voice of the Democrats were it’s not the Chinese fault and let’s not hold them accountable. And they vote against an ability to sanction those who are hacking in, slowing the pursuit of a vaccine. That’s unacceptable. And most of all, it’s un-American. Opening it up for questions. Yes, Julie?
Today President Trump was going after your colleague, Liz Cheney, and retweeted, Rand Paul and Matt Gates calling for her to step down or be removed from leadership. And I was wondering what your response is to that and if you had-
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (05:55)
In our party we’re allowed to have differences of opinion, especially when it comes to foreign policy. I think Liz Cheney and the president agree 98% of the time. And there’s nothing wrong with having a discussion about different ways of going forward. But I think the best part is that we’re united and we don’t air these in public. Yes, ma’am?
Speaker 4: (06:14)
[inaudible 00:06:15], Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went down to the floor this morning and says that Congressman Yoho’s apology was not enough and that having a wife, having a daughter doesn’t make a decent man. And she said his comments were indicative of his disrespect for her and for women more generally. Do you agree with her on that? And do you think Congressman Yoho’s apology went far enough?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (06:39)
I watched that Congressman Yoho went to the floor, apologized not once, but twice to the Congresswoman from New York. I watched the majority-
Speaker 4: (06:49)
But he refused to apologize for his passion. He said, “I refuse to apologize for my passion.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (06:53)
I watched the majority leader of the House accept his apology. In America, I know people make mistakes. We’re a forgiving nation. I also think when someone apologizes, they should be forgiven. I don’t understand that we’re going to take another hour on the floor to debate whether the apology was good enough or not. He said, “I was sorry.” He said, “I’m sorry to the Congresswoman from New York.” But the Democrats won’t take an hour to debate the accountability of China. They refute it. They don’t even give us a moment of time. But that’s what we’re spending an hour on while I know in my own home community that we’re getting a surge. I think that’s a wrong opportunity.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (07:39)
Yes, he made a mistake and yes, he apologized for it. And yes, the majority leader accepted it. And yes, we have big work to do on this floor. And people should not be called names. People should be treated with respect regardless of philosophical differences. And I stand by that and I think it’s appropriate that he apologized. I just think in a new world, in a new age, we now determine whether we accept when someone says I’m sorry, if it’s a good enough apology for them.
Speaker 5: (08:13)
[inaudible 00:08:13] how do you classify where Republicans are now in terms of a stimulus package? And on the Senate side, we’ve heard some disagreement about spending numbers. We’ve seen one trillion floated, but there were some Senators on the Republican side that even think that the trillion dollars is far too much. Where do you stand on that?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (08:31)
Well, there’s a real concern the amount of debt we have. I watched that the Democrats wanted to spend three trillion and talk more about cannabis than they did for research. I want to make sure the money that we spend is the money that’s needed. We have a large debt and we want to make sure we’re able to take care of it. We’re going through something that we have not seen before because of the lies of China. People need help because people are uninsured. We need liability protection so small businesses can open back up. There is money that has been appropriate already, but not have spent. There’s more than a trillion dollars sitting out there that is in this same position.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (09:05)
We could actually utilize money that we’ve already appropriated to get the job done here as well. I hope that we take an approach, that we find common ground to help the individuals who need it, to make sure the schools and the others are safe when they go to open again for the children and the teachers, to make sure from a small business and economic that we have pro-growth agenda in there, that we make sure that we bring back the supply chain from China into America. And I think we can do all of that. And we still have money inside that has been appropriated but not spent that could be better used for this where we are today in this battle.
Speaker 5: (09:45)
Do you know how long? Is there a timeline on when we might see something on paper?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (09:50)
You know what? These are important bills. There’s new data coming in every day. And there’s nothing wrong with spending a few more moments to make sure you get it right. So I wouldn’t give you a deadline. I’d rather have a bill done correctly than set by a certain date. Yes?
Speaker 6: (10:06)
There were a number of Senators who’ve been concerned about the deficit at this point and how a large coronavirus response bill is just going to add to that. Have you heard concern from your members and are you personally concerned or would you rather see a higher number and taking care of-
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (10:23)
I have been very concerned. It doesn’t take a Senator to tell me this. That’s something I’ve been concerned with quite some time. That’s why when we made a budget agreement, the Democrats didn’t even hold to it. In one year they wanted to spend $250 billion more. I watched senators on the other side actually blow through that budget agreement too, thinking they’d get Democrats to move with their appropriations, but they did not. If there is an individual that wants to hold very firm and make sure our grandchildren are not held with this big debt they’re sitting before, but if you watch history and you study history, every great society has collapsed when they’ve overextended themselves. We are at that tipping point. We are going through a crisis. So yes, government has to be there to help, but we should not put us in a place that we cannot come back from. Yes? Oh, you have another one.
Speaker 6: (11:15)
Yeah. Can I ask you a follow up to [crosstalk 00:11:17] question?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (11:16)
Speaker 6: (11:18)
So President Trump is tweeting about Congresswoman Cheney who’s in your leadership. Do you think that she should stay in leadership? Do you support her as a leader?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (11:26)
Yes. Yes. Good question.
Speaker 6: (11:28)
And then are you concerned that this might be indicative though, of a fracture in the GOP heading into the 2020 election?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (11:34)
No. Look at what’s different between the Democratic party and the Republican party, we could have differences of opinion. Everybody’s welcome in the Republican party. We’re proud of the fact of how we were created. You know, the first Republican president ever was Abraham Lincoln. You know who was in his cabinet? Those who didn’t even agree with him. Because he believed in people having differences of opinion to be able to debate. The greatest challenge ever to our Constitution was the Civil War. But he was able to mend the country together.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (12:08)
One of the biggest I think losses we’ve had in this nation is the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. If you thought for one moment some of the crisis that we’re going through in this nation today probably would have never taken place. If Abraham Lincoln was not assassinated, it’s easy to think about what America would have looked like. Malice towards none. For the first 23 black Republicans elected to Congress, but unfortunately, a Democrat controlled South decided that was wrong. So Jim Crow laws came about. They may have never come about had Abraham Lincoln not had to be assassinated. When those Jim Crow laws came about trying to stop people from being able to register to vote, perpetuated a challenge that we have in this nation that Abraham Lincoln wrote about, that believes in this country that was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that we’re all equal. So we all strive for a more perfect union.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (13:11)
We lost a dear friend, but an individual that changed this nation in John Lewis. I spoke about him on the floor today, that yeah, he made this nation better. There’s a lot of reasons why he could be upset with America, but he never believed being upset. He believed in working on America, making it more perfect where we all should work towards. He didn’t believe in violence that we see on the streets today. I think there’s a lot of lessons that can be learned from both men. And I’m proud of the fact that I grew up in a family that were not Republicans, but I chose to be in this party. Why? Because I see the difference. I see what one stands for and what another one stands for.
Speaker 4: (13:52)
Can I follow up on that?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (13:54)
Speaker 4: (13:55)
She asked about Liz Cheney as a woman, you included [inaudible 00:13:58] talk about two men. Between Liz Cheney and AOC, don’t you guys have a women problem?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (14:05)
No. So you just took the question and let me paraphrase what you just said. In no way did she say Liz Cheney is a woman. She said Liz Cheney is a member of my conference. She’s not defined by being in my conference because she’s a woman. She’s defined by being in my conference because she got elected because she’s the best person for the job.a
Speaker 4: (14:23)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (14:24)
Speaker 4: (14:24)
Sure. [crosstalk 00:14:26].
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (14:24)
So if you think we have a woman problem-
Speaker 4: (14:27)
[crosstalk 00:14:27] polls show that you have an incredible problem with suburban women, that if President Trump loses the election, that’s why.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (14:33)
Okay. Well, let’s weight it in the areas you want. The question that she had was in regards to two people. Never did she relate that one person was a man or one person was a woman. She related to two people based upon the positions that they had. You took the question to relate it to a woman. So let me take the question back if that’s the question. There are more women running in the Republican party for Congress than at any time in the history of this party. The record was 143. We’re well over 220. So if you want to measure it based upon that, I think we’re improving. Do we have rooms for improvement? 100% yes. Do we have places to grow in the suburban area? 100% yes.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (15:11)
Our newest members that are elected to this Congress, Mike Garcia, is not a woman, but he’s a first generation American. He understood why his father left a country to come to America because he believed in a life better for his own children. He graduated from high school, got to the Naval Academy and lo and behold, he gets to Congress. So do we have areas to improve? Yes. But are there improvements out there? I see it each and every day. And why? It goes back to the core of the answer that I gave her, the way the party was designed, the way the party was created and our very first president. Her question related to two people disagreeing.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (15:46)
So I related back to a man that happened to be Abraham Lincoln. I related to Abraham Lincoln based upon the cabinet in which he picked. There are books written about it that are best sellers, that he did not pick his best friends. He picked people that actually ran against him. He picked people that were in his party that disagreed with him because he thought that was the best way to govern. So I took her question, not based upon the gender of the people she was talking about. I took her question to be based upon the idea of the discussion.
Speaker 4: (16:15)
So setting that aside, is it helpful for the president to attack the highest ranking Republican woman in Washington?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (16:19)
I think they have a difference of opinion when it comes to the national defense. I think it’s better when people talk one-on-one, but I don’t think in a party that our party disallows thought and disagreement. I think we actually welcome it. I think in this country you have a first amendment right. In today’s society, it’s really interesting to me that if you wear a t-shirt and go fishing with your children, that you could lose a million dollars in your contract because someone disagrees with the news station that your t-shirt says about. That’s wrong. So I don’t have a problem with people having difference of opinion. I think that’s okay. But thank you. I appreciate it. Yes?
Speaker 7: (17:01)
On the next stimulus bill, how much of a priority is it in your caucus to include the presence of a payroll tax cut?
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: (17:12)
That is one of the elements we would request. There’s also a number of pro-growth elements that we think to help bring the supply chain back from China when it comes to expensing and others. We also think there’s a real challenge out there for individuals, that they should be able to use their tax savings. Maybe it’d be within private school. We think businesses should have an ability if they’re going to have challenges of have to pay for more PPE and making sure they have a secure and safe environment, maybe that should be able to be written off as well. There’s a number of ways that we can help this economy grow, keep it safe, and make sure we combat and defeat this virus. Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.