May 12, 2021
Mitch McConnell & Kevin McCarthy Speech After Meeting with Biden Transcript
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy gave remarks on May 12, 2021 after meeting with President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. They discussed infrastructure plans. Read the transcript of their speech briefing here.
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Mitch McConnell: (00:00)
Well, we had a good hour and a half meeting with the president, the vice president, and two democratic leaders. Almost all of this discussion was about infrastructure. And I think I’m safe in saying there is certainly a bipartisan desire to get an outcome. Clearly, Senate Republicans are not interested in revisiting the 2017 tax bill. I think the president and vice president understand that. Beyond that, we are interested in trying to get an outcome. And I think the first step is obviously to define what infrastructure is, the definition of it. And we all think all agreed to work on that together.
Mitch McConnell: (00:53)
My preference is to include the committees. They’re where they experts are. The president’s actually been meeting with members of my conference. Some of them are coming down here tomorrow who know the most about this. And I don’t favor having a top-down dictation as to what this package looks like, but rather a consultative process in which everybody in my conference is involved in it.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:21)
I felt our meeting was very strong when we talked about infrastructure. I think there’s a place that we can find bipartisanship. And it’s one thing I brought up to the president. We first have to start with the definition of what is infrastructure. That’s not home health. That’s roads, bridges, highways, airports, broadband. Those are the places we could find common ground and work together.
Kevin McCarthy: (01:44)
The other thing I think America wants to know is that you’re not going to wait a decade to build it. I brought up the president that we need NEPA reform. Most litigated legislation you’ll find anywhere, we need to streamline, not wait 10 years. On average, you’re getting seven to 10 years. If we want to be competitive, we have to have things built now. I also took the opportunity to talk to the president about my concerns about the rise in inflation, especially the numbers that we see today.
Kevin McCarthy: (02:09)
The concern of what has happened where incentivizing people not to work in America. As I’ve traveled this country, the concern I find from a number of people can’t get them back to work. We need to get people back to work, back to school, back to health and back to normal. I also raised a concern along the border that I want to talk to the president about, having traveled there few times of what I’m seeing there. Just if America was able to watch those young girls, one even 11-months-old that had a rancher not found them would they even be alive today?
Kevin McCarthy: (02:42)
The sad part is that’s not the only story like that. It’s day in and day out. Those are places we can work together and should work together to try to solve what is happening there. I’m really concerned. What I see from a future of economics of America. We have not seen the inflation month over month like this since the 1970s and 1950s. We have not seen gasoline lines and what we’re going to find rationing since Carter was the president. Those are things that we should be looking forward, not backwards. And the idea that spending more trillions of dollars into this economy, when you have a supply constraint is actually the reverse that you want to do to keep America and make sure we don’t have the inflation going. Yes. Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 3: (03:25)
[crosstalk 00:03:25] McCarthy, thank you. What about [inaudible 00:03:38].
Kevin McCarthy: (03:39)
Well, first of all, the conference will decide, but I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with. We’re sitting here with the president today. So from that point of view, I don’t think that’s a problem.
Speaker 4: (03:52)
Fill in the gaps for us because the White House has talked about the $2 trillion package give or take by raising corporate taxes [inaudible 00:03:59] are talking about five, $600 billion on infrastructure user fees. You don’t want to raise corporate taxes. They don’t want user fees. That’s a lot of zeros and commas in-between. How do you find some sort of middle ground?
Kevin McCarthy: (04:09)
Not to negotiate here, but you won’t find any Republicans going to go raise taxes. I think that’s the worst thing you can do in this economy. When you watch inflation, your gas is going up. Remember, gas price today, national gas price has not been this high since President Biden was vice president. You’re watching food costs go up. You’re watching housing costs, lumber costs. There is inflation in everywhere you go. Cars have not moved this high month over month to 10%. So raising taxes would be the biggest mistake you could make.
Kevin McCarthy: (04:38)
Remember the economy we had when we lowered taxes, the 3.5% unemployment. You had everybody having an opportunity regardless of where you were in America. Some of the best employment we had. So that to us is a non-starter. What we walked into the room with, where can we find agreement? And I felt that was productive. I felt all of us as leader and the president and the vice president sitting down saying, “Let’s first decide what is the definition of infrastructure?” If we can all decide that, then we can work on what the need is and what we need to spend. That was productive and I felt coming out that’s where we were ending up.
Mitch McConnell: (05:16)
Yeah. We’re not interested in reopening the 2017 tax bill. We both made that clear to the president. That’s our red line. We believe that in February of 2020, we had the best economy we’ve had in 50 years. We believe that was a major reason for it. And so from my perspective, this discussion about the way forward on infrastructure will not include revisiting the 2017 tax bill. [crosstalk 00:05:55]
Kevin McCarthy: (05:55)
You know why you get the question? Because you married a girl from Bakersville who is fabulous, by the way.
Speaker 5: (06:00)
That is true.
Kevin McCarthy: (06:00)
Yes. You definitely married up, but go ahead.
Speaker 5: (06:03)
Yeah, I did. Yeah. We know that the president spent a lot of time on infrastructure with you guys today. Are you satisfied that he is spending enough time? Because we don’t really hear talking about the border, the crisis in the Middle East, the gas supply issues right now. Is he spending enough time? Is he’s leading? Are you satisfied with the leadership?
Kevin McCarthy: (06:23)
Look, I thought the meeting today was productive and I know he wanted to have the meeting on infrastructure, but I want to take the opportunity to talk about the concerns I’m hearing around the country from affordability, the price of gas, the crisis at the border that’s coming every single day. The ability to get people to go back to work, the incentive to get back. And the schools, the millions of kids who are not back at school. These are the concerns I’m hearing every day so I took the opportunity to raise those with the president, the president engaged on those topics.
Kevin McCarthy: (06:54)
I would like to have more, I’d like to see some action on that. I’m very concerned with what’s happening in Israel. The president, we did touch on that at the beginning. He brought that up. I commended the president’s for his comments yesterday, Israel’s ability to defend themselves and they should be.
Mitch McConnell: (07:13)
Let me add just one thing on the issue of inflation and getting people back to work. What I did last week was to have roundtables with businesses of all sizes, including hospitals. I said, “What’s your biggest problem?” Number one, they can’t get people to come back to work. And number two, inflation. Exactly the same thing that Kevin was hearing and others are hearing around the country. I think that’s a direct result of flooding the zone with an extraordinary amount of money.
Mitch McConnell: (07:47)
I will say this. There’s great excitement at state government and local counties. They’ve never seen anything like what’s headed their way with this mountain of money that’s coming in. Hopefully we can capture some of that to make this infrastructure package go forward in a way that everybody would like to see it go forward.
Mitch McConnell: (08:08)
Speaker 6: (08:11)
Bottom line based on what you’ve heard from the president today, are you more optimistic about the prospect of working with this White House, particularly on infrastructure or less?
Kevin McCarthy: (08:21)
No, I think there’s an opportunity that we could work together on infrastructure. Now let me preface that. We’re not interested as long as it’s not anything about tax increases and it dealing with infrastructure. That we start with the concept what is the definition and that we’re able to make reforms so you can actually build the roads not decades away, that you modernize the law from the 1970s. So money, roads gets built, they get faster. But what I really want to work on is making sure turning this economy around, getting people back to work, back to school, back to health and back to normal. I believe in the vaccine. That’s why I’m not wearing a mask. I want people back in school.
Kevin McCarthy: (08:59)
The other thing too you have to understand. Those numbers we heard today on inflation, that should terrify every American because it’s not a question of whether there’s going to be a tax increase. You just had the biggest tax increase you’ve had in more than 10 years and it hit you already. And for those who have lower income is getting hit harder. That’s why we got to incentivize people to get back to work, get the economy moving again and stronger and stop this inflation. And part of what Congress has recently done by spending those trillions of dollars is the wrong action to take in the economy we have the day that you could propel inflation even greater, make people’s money worth less, affordability is more difficult. Those are the things I want to discuss and correct and also the border. All right, last question.
Speaker 7: (09:48)
Are you concerned about your future in leadership giving you protected Cheney for so long [inaudible 00:09:50].
Kevin McCarthy: (09:51)
Not at all.
Speaker 7: (09:51)
You’re not concerned at all?
Kevin McCarthy: (09:53)
No. I’m looking forward to being speaker in the next Congress. Thank you all very much.