Aug 3, 2021
Mitch McConnell, Senate GOP Infrastructure Bill Press Conference Transcript
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP senators held a press conference on August 3, 2021 to discuss the infrastructure bill debate. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Mitch McConnell: (00:05)
Well, you all remember what they used to say about Chuck over in the House, “You never want to get between Chuck and a camera.” I just had a firsthand experience with that. I must say he was quite good at beating me to the microphone. But the best way to pass this infrastructure bill is to not try to file cloture today and speed the process. This is an extremely important bipartisan bill. There’s an excellent chance it will be a bipartisan success story for the country. And to try to truncate an amendment process on something of this magnitude I think is a mistake.
Mitch McConnell: (00:48)
So if the Majority Leader files cloture today I’ll be encouraging my colleagues, including the negotiators, not to invoke cloture on Thursday. If you look at the calendar he’s laid out, we know we’re going to be here next week anyway. The reckless tax and spending resolution will be coming next. That does have an end time on it, it’s not subject to filibuster. So my best advice to the Majority Leader would be to slow it. Slow but steady wins the race.
Speaker 2: (01:30)
Well, as the leader pointed out, we’ve got a bipartisan bill in front of us that’s been negotiated for some time by a number of members on both sides of the aisle. But for most of our members, the first time they’ve seen it was Sunday night, really Monday morning. And it’s more than 2,700 pages long, which somebody has pointed out is twice the size of the Bible. And in typical highway bill debates that I’ve been associated with through the years, it takes about three weeks to move highway reauthorization across the floor. And in those cases, you’ve had a lot of committee input. It’s gone through regular order. You’ve had at least three committees that have vetted it. And a lot of the members of those committees have had opportunities to offer amendments. That hasn’t been the case here. And so I would echo what the leader said about ensuring that we have a robust amendment process that members on both sides who were not a part of that gang of 20 get a chance to have their voices heard in this process and stay away from any artificial deadlines.
Speaker 2: (02:28)
I think you ought to let this process and this play out. We’re talking about a huge, huge amount of money here, over a trillion dollars or around a trillion dollars, depending on whose numbers you use. I understand though that the rush to get this done is so that Senator Schumer and the Democrats can then move to that three and a half trillion dollar tax and spending spree that they want to get on immediately after the bipartisan bill. And what’s interesting that really is that if you look at what the House of Representatives is saying is they’re saying, well, can’t move one without the other. So essentially Nancy Pelosi is saying, “I’m going to hold hostage the bipartisan bill until I can get my three and a half trillion dollar reckless tax and spending spree bill voted on in the House of Representatives,” which I think ironically is what makes the American people so cynical about Washington D.C.
Speaker 2: (03:23)
You actually have a bipartisan process trying to produce a bipartisan result on an issue that’s of great concern to the American people, infrastructure. And you’ve got the Speaker of the House of Representatives literally saying she’s going to hold it hostage. She’s going to hold the bipartisan bill hostage and take it prisoner until she gets the three and a half trillion dollars that they’re going to do purely, purely on a partisan basis around here. And I think that would be a really unfortunate outcome from the American people and one that I hope they will avoid in the interest of doing the right thing by people in this country. And that is allowing these bills to be considered separately, independently and not taking the highway bill hostage to the three and a half trillion dollar tax and spending spree bill that they’re going to try and get to follow on right behind it.
Speaker 3: (04:18)
When it comes to COVID, there should only be one message to the American people and that message is vaccines work. If you want to protect yourself, protect your family against coronavirus, the best thing you can do is get vaccinated. I’m a doctor, I’ve been vaccinated. My wife’s been vaccinated. Our kids have been vaccinated. There was overwhelming evidence, overwhelming, that for people who have been vaccinated that provides significant protection against any serious disease. If you have specific questions, talk with your doctor.
Speaker 3: (04:49)
But now for the chaos and the confusion that’s coming out of the White House and the CDC, they are guilty of medical malpractice. May 13th a number of us were with the president in the White House when the CDC and the president both announced that you no longer need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors if you have been vaccinated. The president took off his mask. The six of us Republican senators who were meeting with him took off our masks.
Speaker 3: (05:15)
But now what we have is a flip-flop by the administration and the CDC to say, “Even if you are vaccinated, you need to go back to wearing a mask indoors.” How are you going to encourage people who have not been vaccinated to get vaccinated if the message to them is even if you’re vaccinated, you still need to go wear a mask indoors? That’s why people at home are concerned, angry. There’s anxiety because if the White House has flip flopped on this, are they going to flip flop on shutdowns? Are they going to flip on lockdowns, on closing schools? Parents are very concerned about the fact that many kids across this country have already lost a year of learning, setting them significantly. Parents want to make sure that schools are opening and they can’t tolerate this sort of indecision on the part of the administration.
Speaker 3: (06:05)
The contrast is significant when you take a look at Nancy Pelosi telling the Capitol police to arrest fully vaccinated staff members if they happen to be on the House side of the Capitol and aren’t wearing a mask. And at the same time at the Southern border, you have 180,000 people coming in undocumented, unvaccinated from all over the world, carrying some of the most incredibly contagious diseases in the history of mankind. The White House on this and the Center for Disease Control have lost all credibility.
Speaker 4: (06:40)
Yesterday I visited Fort Lee to see the processing of the Afghans that have been brought to the United States under the Special Immigrant Visa program. It was extremely heartening to be able to visit with the Afghans and their family members and to see the smiles on those children as they were embracing their new home. And while I am heartened to see that we have a number of Afghans that are being brought into the United States and are able to get to those third country nations, we have thousands, thousands upon thousands that are still in Afghanistan. And because of the haphazard withdrawal that the Biden administration has done with our troops and Afghanistan, we see more and more of the territory falling to the Taliban. This makes it increasingly difficult for those Afghans who stood beside us for 20 years to get to Kabul and be evacuated whether to that third country nation or to the United States.
Speaker 4: (07:56)
So I do want to thank the members of Congress. Jeanne Shaheen and I led the effort here in the United States Senate, the members in the House. We quickly reacted, got legislation passed. The State Department is taking up that legislation and moving on that. But we need the Biden administration to do more and to push harder, get the vetting process done, engage while we can and save as many as we can. The Taliban is after those who helped us, make no mistake.
Speaker 4: (08:34)
On the next topic, illegal immigrants receiving amnesty, tax hikes on farmers and small businesses, the Green New Deal. What do all of these things have in common? They are all part of the Democrats reckless tax and spending spree, what we will be seeing in the next week or so here in the United States Senate. Americans are hurting. Hardworking families are hurting. They’re paying more for their goods with inflation. And now the Biden administration wants to turn around, hike up their taxes, continue to force them to pay more for the goods and services that they need every single day. And I’ll tell you what, every single Republican is united against this effort. We are going to stand with our hardworking American constituents.
Speaker 5: (09:34)
[inaudible 00:09:34] I talk to families about issues they deal with. The biggest issue they’re dealing with now is inflation. Gas prices are up. Food prices are up. Used car prices are up. Everything’s up. And it’s caused by reckless government spending. Now over the weekend, the debt ceiling expired. And so we have a choice. We can continue reckless spending. We can finally get our house in order. We’ve got to get our house in order because the poorest families in this country, families on fixed income, they can’t afford what we’re doing to them. We’ve got to stop wasteful spending.
Speaker 5: (10:06)
I’ve been very disappointed with the Biden administration with regard to Cuba. They’ve done nothing to get the internet back on. They don’t call out the atrocities. Over a thousand dissidents are now detained and tortured. You saw plenty of video of peaceful protesters being beaten up. Nothing out of the White House. They never condemn. They never talk about it. They never show videos. They never show pictures. So I’m very disappointed. We have got to do everything we can. This is our best opportunity to get freedom in Cuba. We get freedom in Cuba, it will be the precursor to freedom in Venezuela, the precursor to freedom in Nicaragua.
Speaker 6: (10:45)
Assuming you get the bipartisan process that you want in infrastructure, do you plan to support in this bill’s passage at the end of the day?
Mitch McConnell: (10:52)
Well, obviously I support moving along and I’ve tried to support the bipartisan group in every way that we can. Like a lot of us, I’m interested in what it looks like at the end. But I’m in favor of trying to get an outcome on a bipartisan infrastructure package. The past two administrations tried to do it, were unable to. The American people need it. I think it’s one of those areas where there seems to be broad bipartisan agreement.
Speaker 7: (11:19)
What is your position on extending the moratorium? What is your position on extending the eviction moratorium, especially in light of the Delta variant?
Mitch McConnell: (11:30)
Well, it looks like the money is there and it’s either still in Washington or it’s down at state and local government or somewhere in between. It doesn’t seem to me to require any additional legislative action. Need to get the money out there that’s already been made available so it can solve the problem.
Speaker 8: (11:52)
Does your support for the bipartisan infrastructure package, is it contingent upon assurances from moderate Democrats that they will try to weaken the reconciliation package?
Mitch McConnell: (12:04)
No. As we’ve said repeatedly, the infrastructure package stands on its own by itself. And I intend to, and I think all of my members are going to, judge it based on the package itself, not what may come up with two separate propositions.
Speaker 7: (12:34)
And that’s a no on the eviction moratorium? Just to button that down. 79,000 people are behind on rent in Kentucky.
Mitch McConnell: (12:34)
Oh yeah. I think the governor needs to do something about that if he’s got the money that was supposedly sent down to him.