Apr 20, 2021
Liz Cheney, House GOP Leaders Press Conference Transcript April 20
Rep. Liz Cheney and other House Republicans held a press conference on April 20, 2021. They discussed DC statehood, Biden’s infrastructure plan, and more. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Congresswoman Cheney: (00:00)
We’ve got two of our new members here to talk about DC statehood and the bill that will be on the floor today on that. And then also about what’s happening at the border again. The set of issues that we’ve been discussing are the national security set of issues, which we’re watching around the world. Our adversaries are testing this new administration, whether you’re talking about what’s happening in Russia with the troop buildup on the border of Ukraine, the new CIA director Bill Burns said that this could well be a preparation for limited military incursion. Whether you’re talking about what’s happening with the Chinese government, the Chinese Communist Party, and the extent to which they’re threatening Taiwan and continuing their malign influence in activities around the globe. What’s happening in Iran, the announcement that they’re now going to 60% enrichment in their continued aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons. Whether you’re talking about North Korea and their continued nuclear buildup and potential resumption of long range testing.
Congresswoman Cheney: (01:13)
Around the globe, we’re watching as our adversaries test us as our adversaries threaten us. And so far, the Biden administration has been lacking sadly in its response. Our adversaries need to know that we have the will and the capacity to defend ourselves. That is the only way to deter the kind of threat that we see. When you combine the continued response by the Biden administration, which seems to be if the Iranians threaten their nuclear buildup, then what we need to do is get back into the JCPOA.
Congresswoman Cheney: (01:48)
The JCPOA obviously gives the Iranians a pathway to a nuclear weapon. So they do not seem to recognize that it’s in fact weakness, it’s provocative. And we, and certainly the House Republicans are absolutely dedicated, committed to ensuring that we do our part in terms of oversight, in terms of highlighting the extent to which we know that military that is second to none and a strong relationship with our allies. Those two things are very important for us to be able to defend ourselves. So we’re going to continue to focus on and work on those issues. And with that, I’m going to turn things over to the gentlelady from South Carolina, one of our new members to talk about DC statehood and our concerns about that bill. So I’m going to turn things over to Nancy Mace.
Congresswoman Mace: (02:41)
And I want to thank Congresswoman Cheney and Congressman Scalise for their leadership on these issues today. I never thought in the first 100 days that more damage could be done in 100 days by this administration than in four years. The Democrats have taken a very sharp left turn to a place I never thought this quick. After January, we heard a lot about unity and it’s been nothing but division. It’s been 100% partisanship and it’s been a grab for more power. And I can tell you today, I don’t believe that most of the American people want to see this power grab by any member of Congress on either side of the aisle. And so when you look at HR1 right now, this is totally unconstitutional, but right of elections and how they are facilitated, how they are authorized to be completed, that’s the power of the state, not the power of the federal government.
Congresswoman Mace: (03:34)
If you look at Iowa too, they tried to steal a legally certified election in Iowa with Congressmen Marionette Miller Meeks, the American people voted, they voted legally and it was legally certified. We’re seeing it now with DC statehood. DC wouldn’t even qualify as a singular congressional district and here they are, they want the power and the authority of being an entire state in the United States. And they want that power. We’re seeing it with packing the Supreme Court, going from nine to 13 or attempt to do that. And they want to change the system. I literally have a front row seat to the dismantling of our constitution and our freedoms and seeing more power gained by the federal government and less for the American people. And that’s why I’m here today to fight back against that. And I thank you for your time this morning. Thank you.
Congresswoman Cheney: (04:25)
Great. Thanks very much, Nancy. And now I’m going to yield to the gentleman from Indiana. Congresswoman Sparks, who has just recently returned from the border.
Congresswoman Sparks: (04:38)
Thank you very much. Thank you for being here. We spent about 15 hours in Judiciary Committee debating these two bills, and I wanted to share some thoughts with you as a member of the committee, but also as an immigrant to this country. I went to the border with both my democratic colleagues and my Republican colleagues. And we have a real national security and humanitarian crisis at the border. And it is unfortunate for me to see that instead of having hearings and debates about solutions, maybe to improve our legal immigration, to improve legal infrastructure, the other side is playing politics. So I just wanted to briefly to really, and hopefully you can pass it along to Speaker Pelosi because it seems like she’s the only one who runs the show, three things. Number one thing, that she needs to realize that President Biden is in charge right now, not President Trump.
Congresswoman Sparks: (05:39)
So they need to start governing this country, not playing politics. Thing number two, national security is number one core functions in protecting our people from national threats. It’s the most important thing that federal government has to do. And number three, we actually are not a middle school class that complaining about recess, we are a serious institution, which has to work on a serious issues and serious policies that people expect from us. What’s happening right now, it’s unacceptable, it’s un-American and we have to get to governing and not politicking and drama. And as a freshmen, I’m very, very disappointed to see that. I’ll do my part, and I hope you will do your part to put pressure on the other side that we can get to work. Thank you for having me.
Congresswoman Cheney: (06:33)
And now I’d like to turn things over to our witness. Mr. Scalise.
Congressman Scalise: (06:37)
Thank you, Liz. Thank you to my colleagues for their comments, and we still continue to have a crisis at America’s Southern border so much. So that President Biden himself finally, the other day admitted that this is a crisis. And what was the White House’s reaction to try to distance themselves from the comments of the present United States. I’ve never seen a white house before try to say that statements by a president of the United States regarding a crisis doesn’t constitute the White House position. It is a crisis. I’m glad that President Biden is finally acknowledging it. I wish Vice President Harris, who president Biden put in charge of this, would actually go down and see this right now. And the fact that she still hasn’t after weeks of being in charge of it, shows that they don’t take this seriously. And in fact, they’ve self created this crisis.
Congressman Scalise: (07:27)
We see the drug cartels taking hold of America’s Southern border. The drug cartels are making millions of dollars a day running our Southern border, bringing people across illegally. And by the way, we had Dr. Fauci before the select subcommittee on Corona virus last week, Dr. Fauci under oath testified that President Biden’s violating the CDC guidelines that he set in regards to coronavirus. So we all know the social distancing guidelines. We all know that any restaurant in America that was operating above capacity would be shut down today if they were rated for 250% capacity. Imagine if that restaurant had 4,000 people in it, Dr. Fauci testified that yes, that restaurant would be shut down, but yet the Donna detention facilities opened. Operating under those kind of extreme conditions. And I asked Dr. Fauci if that violated CDC protocols, the way the Biden administration is running that Donna detention facility and Dr. Fauci testified under oath that yes, President Biden is violating CDC protocols as it relates to the ways running the facility.
Congressman Scalise: (08:33)
We further went on and asked about the protocols that CDC has set up for American citizens that travel back from Mexico. So if an American citizen travels to Mexico and then returns, before they get on an airplane, an American citizen has to produce a negative COVID test. It’s not a recommendation, it’s a mandate that CDC has issued. So an citizen couldn’t even get on that airplane without a negative COVID test. And yet today, today, you will see maybe hundreds of people from the Donna detention facility put on airplanes without a COVID test. Some of them, our own border patrol agents acknowledge our COVID positive, being put on an airplane without a negative COVID test. So once again, the Biden administration is making us live by one set of rules when they’re not even following their own rules.
Congressman Scalise: (09:22)
And Dr. Fauci testified under oath that that is violating CDC protocols as well the way that they are transporting people that came here illegally throughout the rest of the country. And the Biden administration still won’t tell us how many people have been put on airplanes, where they’re being sent, because clearly those states now should be concerned about the public health crisis that is being created by the Biden administration violating their own CDC protocols, the way they are mismanaging this crisis at the border. This continues to be a problem. We’re going to continue to raise awareness until this gets solved. The president could solve it today by restoring the Remain In Mexico Policy, by reestablishing those relationships with the Northern triangle countries that were in place during the Trump administration and working very well, working with our partners, with our neighbors on our Southern border to help control our border.
Congressman Scalise: (10:12)
That is all gone right now because President Biden got rid of it by executive action. President Biden created this mess. He can fix this mess and we call on him to do it today. And then finally, when you look at the additional push by Speaker Pelosi and her socialist allies in the house to push such a broad left socialist agenda. Just the other day, one of our top leaders, Jerry Nadler filed a bill to pack the United States Supreme Court. And why speaker Pelosi initially said it wasn’t going to come up right now, Jerry Nadler himself said that speaker Pelosi will come around down and we couldn’t even get the majority leader last week to commit that this bill will not come up. So no doubt, they will continue to try to pack the Supreme Court if they can. They have opened America’s Southern borders and the drug cartels have exploited it to the hilt.
Congressman Scalise: (11:02)
And then you look at some of the other policies that they’re talking about bringing. Adding DC statehood against the 28th amendment of our constitution among other provisions, article one, section eight of our constitution. Just ramming through a socialist agenda, not working with Republicans on infrastructure. We want to improve America’s infrastructure, and we want to do it in a responsible way. President Biden still has not met with Republican leadership to talk about how to do this. Instead, they’re talking about a go it alone bill that would include tax hikes, major tax hikes that every American would pay. When they say that, “Oh, it only will be the rich.” I guess if you pay utility bills, you’re going to be one of those people because they’re charging stations that they want to spend billions of American tax dollars on, would be paid for by monthly increases on family’s household utility bills.
Congressman Scalise: (11:52)
So if a hard working family out there wants to pay more in their utility bills, that’s what the Biden infrastructure bill would do. That’s not roads, bridges, ports, waterways, and broadband. Those are the things that we want to work on. That’s not what the president is working on. He said when he ran for office, that he would unify and work with everybody. He has yet to follow through on that promise. Day 100 is coming closely. All he’s got to show first 100 days in office is more lost jobs, killing the Keystone pipeline, killing many energy jobs, pushing a very far left radical agenda, opening America’s borders, trying to pack the Supreme Court. That’s not what America elected president Biden to do, we’re calling on him to follow up on the promises that he made during the campaign. With that, would be happy to take some questions.
Speaker 5: (12:38)
If Congresswoman Waters’ remarks were worthy of censure, why isn’t Mo Brooks’ comments worthy of censure when he said at the Stop The Steal rally, “Today’s the day American Patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” Why wasn’t he censured?
Congressman Scalise: (12:51)
Well, first of all, I’ve been very clear in speaking out against any kind of political rhetoric that incites violence. But if you look at Maxine Waters’ comments, the judge in the trial just yesterday acknowledged that Maxine Waters’ comments are so inflammatory that it could cause grounds for an appeal, if that ruling goes the wrong way. And in fact, the judge went on to say that elected officials need to stop doing this and stay out of this.
Congressman Scalise: (13:14)
The fact that Speaker Pelosi covered for she was trying to incite violence and in fact, there is violence going on right now in Minnesota because of her actions. This isn’t the first time she’s made those kinds of inflammatory comments. So you’re going to see Leader McCarthy bring a central resolution to the floor. I’d like to see Maxine Waters apologize for the inflammatory comments that she’s made, inciting violence. It’s a powder keg down there. The last thing you want to do is make it worse and especially, to give grounds for an appeal. And look, we all watched what happened and saw officer Chauvin crossed the line. We should be all focused on making sure that justice is carried out. The last thing you’d want to do is give a grounds for an appeal that the judge himself acknowledged Maxine’s comments.
Speaker 5: (13:59)
Should Mo Brooks apologize also? There was a deadly riot that happened after he spoke at that rally.
Congressman Scalise: (14:02)
Well, again, a lot of people have talked about the comments that other people have made and spoken out against it. Right now, I haven’t heard any Democrats speaking out against what Maxine has said and it’s time for Democrats to speak out when they see it on both sides, they only want to speak out on one side of the aisle, not on both. And that hypocrisy, I think is starting to shine through.
Speaker 6: (14:21)
Do you agree with your colleagues though, who say that the comments I Congresswoman Maxine Waters made is on par with the comments that former President Trump made prior to January 6th at that same level of violence?
Congressman Scalise: (14:33)
No. In fact, President Trump used the words peaceful. When he talked about the statements that he made. I haven’t heard Maxine saying anything about peacefully protesting. She’s talked about violence. She’s talked about, I think the word is, “Get more confrontational in the streets if verdict the goes the wrong way.” There’s nothing peaceful about that. And again, the judge himself just yesterday said that that could cause the grounds for an appeal.
Speaker 7: (15:01)
What kind of wording might McCarthy have in a censure proposal?
Congressman Scalise: (15:05)
I don’t know if the leader’s finalized the language, but obviously censure is the route that is going to be taken when it’s filed.
Speaker 7: (15:13)
What kind of tone would it take?
Congressman Scalise: (15:18)
You’ll have to ask him what the language is going to be because he’s finalizing that right now.
Speaker 8: (15:22)
Mr Scalise. Two months ago, Ms. Cheney gave a speech in which she said, “Republicans must make clear that the GOP is not the party of white supremacy.” Are you guys failing in that mission now that you have members proposing this America first caucus that promotes and espouses Anglo-Saxon political traditions and European architecture?
Congressman Scalise: (15:44)
Well, first of all, I’ve seen comments that that’s not being proposed and you know that there is no caucus to do that. Look, what makes America great is our diversity, the richness of all the people that come from all around the world, legally coming to America to seek the American dream, like my great grandparents sought when they came from Italy. And it’s a great rich story. And people come, we’re a great melting pot in America. And people of all faiths, of all beliefs know that this is the place, this is the bastion of freedom where anybody can come. And if they seek that American dream, it’s there for them today. And we see it, there are members of Congress today who came here from other countries themselves, not even second generation. We have many second and third generation, wealthy people that have created wealth because they came to America without a dime. And they just had that belief in what makes America great.
Congressman Scalise: (16:36)
We all ought to promote that. Nobody should be promoting an agenda that excludes anyone else. And-
Speaker 8: (16:42)
So you would condemn that-
Congressman Scalise: (16:44)
There is no caucus that they formed. And if they ultimately do it [crosstalk 00:16:48] well, I think what Marjorie said is that a staffer wrote that, she didn’t. And she said she’s not pursuing that. So there is no member of Congress who has said they’re creating that kind of caucus. I would suggest that no caucus like that be filed by anybody, but I would also urge all of my college Republicans and Democrats, to be very vocal about the fact that what makes America great is our rich diversity of people who come here legally seeking the American dream. And we ought to create that opportunity for everybody, not just ourselves, but for future generations.
Congressman Scalise: (17:20)
And I am concerned that for future generations, it’s at risk if they try to move a socialist agenda and turn our country into a more socialist nation, where they want to pack the Supreme Court to have a hostile takeover of the judiciary branch of government. They want to add states, even though DC used to be part of the state of Maryland, just like some of Southern DC used to be part of the state of Virginia. That was initially given to the country to create an independent capital, which is what our country wanted. They didn’t need the land, so that land went back to Virginia. But ultimately, if you look at where we are, what makes America great is our diversity and our ability for anybody to come here seeking freedom and go and work hard and achieve the American dream. If we move towards socialism, that dream will begin to disappear.
Speaker 9: (18:08)
I wanted to ask about the GOP climate proposals that are coming out this week I know there’s a three day rollout from Leader McCarthy’s office, highlighting the energy and climate work of House Republicans. Can you just talk about that, please?
Congressman Scalise: (18:20)
You know, look, I’m a conservationist. I love hunting and fishing. In fact, the best place to fish in south Louisiana is right next to an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Everybody knows that. Biggest game fish you can find in beautiful blue Caribbean water. And so there’s always been a symbiotic relationship in Louisiana and so many other states. In fact, it’s drilling revenues that allow us to have the money to rebuild our coast in south Louisiana, which is a major national crisis where we’re losing a football field of land every hour. We actually use drilling revenue to rebuild that land and protect people of south Louisiana from storms that come in from the Gulf of Mexico. So if you look at what we stand for, we’ve been very clear that what America has done through ingenuity and through American energy dominance has allowed us to reduce carbon emissions. Not Kyoto protocols or Paris Accords, which by the way, when you look in Europe, there’s not a single country in the European union in compliance with the Paris Accord, it’s wrecked economies.
Congressman Scalise: (19:17)
And what we don’t want to see is wreck America’s manufacturing economy, send those jobs to China and other countries that actually increase carbon emissions. If you want to reduce carbon emissions, make more things in America, don’t run jobs out of America. And for Earth Day, I’d give a challenge to the president’s climate czar. Maybe if John Kerry just took a week and said, he’s not going to fly around in his private jet, he would save at least 40 times the amount of carbon emissions if he got on a private plane. If he wanted to go to Iceland and receive some global warming award, they have flights from Boston to Iceland that are commercial instead of getting on his private jet while telling you not to use fossil fuels.
Congressman Scalise: (19:53)
So getting rid of the hypocrisy would be a good place for the left to start. We believe in American ingenuity, we believe in what’s been great about this country at reducing emissions, through technology and innovation in America, making things in America, creating jobs in America, exporting goods to help our friends around the world all by reducing carbon emissions. So conservationism works, radical leftist environmentalism destroys America’s jobs and increases carbon emissions because those jobs go to foreign countries like China who pollute at such a high level that you can’t even walk around without getting respiratory illness. So with that, we appreciate you all being out here. Thank you all.