Exclusive — Kevin McCarthy Lays Out GOP ‘Commitment to America’: ‘A Clear Contrast’ Between Republicans, Democrats for Midterms

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    McCarthy’s “Commitment to America,” which he previewed in the latest On The Hill video special taped in December at an Eastern Market establishment on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, is what he framed up as the contrast with Democrat policies that have harmed America over the past year since President Joe Biden and his Democrats took complete control in Washington last January. In the more than an hour long interview, McCarthy explained the disastrous consequences of Democrats running Congress, detailed the pathway for Republicans back to power, and then went into detail about what the GOP will do if and when it gets there.

    The GOP vision, which McCarthy said will be rolled out by House Republicans over the course of this year, is similar to the 1994 “Contract with America” that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich introduced that year–the first year in decades that Republicans had taken back the House majority. McCarthy’s plan is also diametrically opposed to that of Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, who has time and again said he does not intend to release a positive agenda but instead just intends to beat up on Democrats rather than promising what Republicans will do if they win the majority back in that chamber.

    House Speaker Newt Gingrich holds up a copy of the Republican Party’s “Contract With America” during a rally to celebrate the first 50 days of the Republican majority in Congress, February 22, 1995. (JOSHUA ROBERTS/AFP via Getty Images)

    “I have a different view. I don’t think majorities are given, I think they are earned,” McCarthy said when asked about McConnell’s view on this matter. “I think you also should be very truthful to the American public about what would you do with that majority. It’s not just being in the majority for the sake of being in the majority. You’re being in the majority to make America better. What happens is if you lay out your agenda, and this agenda is–we’re listening out across the country–how do we have election reform, right? We’ve got Rodney Davis going out and listening. We have 23 states that have already improved their election law. How do we make sure the rolls are cleaned up? How do we make sure for IDs and others so that you can trust your elections going forward? We want to make sure that happens, so we continue to work on these collectively together and then we put policy together. We should show the American public so when the American public goes to vote, they can have a decision on which path do they want to go on? This one-party rule that’s brought us inflation, open borders, unsafe communities, and a supply chain where products are scarce, or do we want something that’s going to make our economy stronger, our streets safer, our border secure, and the next century the American century? Let them make a decision. But then it also holds our feet to the fire and holds us accountable. If we promise to do this, we need to go do this.”

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    McCarthy pointed to issue-focused task forces he debuted in 2021 as an engine for the policy ideas he and Republicans will center this Commitment to America around.

    “Any time you have an election that has contrast, clear contrast–like, if Republicans were trusted with the majority, what would you do?” McCarthy said. “We’ll come out with a Commitment to America. What we’ve been doing for the last year is all the member are on task forces. We’ve been working on policy.”

    Some specific policy items he previewed that will be in it include the GOP’s “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” plans to secure the border and for holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the coronavirus pandemic, Republicans’ public safety vision to contrast with Democrat pushes to defund police, energy policies, and perhaps most importantly economic policies to stop inflation.

    “We recently rolled out a parents’ bill of rights. You look at what happened in Virginia, where the Democrats don’t believe the parents should have a say in their kids’ education, we say that’s wrong,” McCarthy said. “We give you a parents’ bill of rights to guarantee you have a say so you know what’s being taught and what’s being read and where’s your money being spent. We give you a parents’ bill of rights. When the border came out, we had a five-step how to secure the border. When you watch how to deal with China, we came out with a five-step program on how to deal with China to know where COVID came from and release all the intelligence, don’t go to the Olympics, stop gain-of-function from going to any other country, holding them accountable. If we released all of the intelligence, all the other countries would have it as well to know where this COVID started and originated from. We’re just going to have the party of the ideas, the party of the parent, and what we’re going to do is you’ll find later this year we will roll out a Commitment to America–a clear contrast on what our policies are versus the one-party rule. We’ll secure the border. We’ll stop the inflation and runaway spending. We’ll make your streets safe because we don’t defund the police, we fund police. We stop this releasing everybody out on bail. You’ll find we’ll make America energy independent. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. When we do that your gasoline price will lower and your home heating price this winter which is going up 50 percent will be lower. And you know what? More Americans will have jobs because of it. These are just a few of the things we’re rolling out.”

    For Republicans to retake the House majority, they need to flip just a net five seats back into GOP hands from Democrat control in November. Last election cycle, Republicans flipped 15 seats back from Democrat control and nearly swept back into the majority–blowing away expectations from professional pundits, something McCarthy revels in reliving noting that Breitbart News was the only outlet that took his vision then seriously. Asked about the plan for 2022, McCarthy first retold the story of 2020’s congressional elections where he came on Breitbart News to discuss the then-31 districts that now former President Donald Trump had won but Democrats held as of the summer of 2019.

    “We have a plan to do it but first I want to credit you. In the last election cycle you and I sat down on your radio show and nobody else in the country believed we could win seats. Everybody, every pollster said we would lose 15 or more seats,” McCarthy said, while mocking “all these people who make money–who make money–by telling people what’s going to happen” for getting it wrong.

    “Also, remember all the articles. I was no longer going to be leader because we were going to lose 20 seats. You know the interesting part? They got the number right and the party wrong,” McCarthy said. “The interesting part is when you and I would talk about these races and we would bring up the policy but we would bring up the candidates we recruited, the interesting part is it’s the first time in the last election–it’s the first time since 1994, think about that, since 1994 that no Republican incumbent lost. Not one Republican incumbent lost. We beat 15 Democrats. Every Democrat lost to a Republican woman, a Republican minority, or a Republican veteran. Can you believe that? We elected more Republican women in the history of Congress in the last election.”

    In this January 4, 2021, file photo, Rep. Lauren Boebert joins other freshmen Republican House members for a group photo at the Capitol in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

    McCarthy explained the metrics he is looking at to determine GOP chances in November 2022 next, noting that the generic ballot polling and the “early indicators” of the off-year elections in primarily Virginia and New Jersey but also some local elections and ballot initiatives in other states bear signs that bode well for Republicans this year.

    “So, now we’re five seats away. That’s the closest majority the Democrats have had in more than 100 years. So that’s what happened in the past,” McCarthy said. “Now, let’s first talk about the history in America. So, why do we think we can win? Unbeknownst to what’s going on out there, there’s a couple things you want to look at. You want to look at the generic ballot. That’s a macro view of where the country lies. If you go back in May, the generic ballot was D plus 9. It was an advantage for the Democrats. That generic ballot has to be a D plus 4 or less for Republicans to have the ability of an atmosphere to win. By December of last year, that had gone to R plus 5. That’s because of the one party rule and all of the policies these Democrats have created. We watched that flip. That means the climate could be good. We watched what happened in Virginia and New Jersey as they always are off-year elections. They always have been early indicators of what would happen in Congress. With New Jersey and Virginia going together–in 93 they both went Republican and then the House flipped Republican. In 2005, they both went Democrat and then the House flipped Democrat. Now, these states perform differently–they’re much more blue–but Biden won Virginia by 10 and he won New Jersey by 16. We flipped Virginia and really came–people weren’t playing there, but we could have won New Jersey. The thing I love, you all know that story where the president of the state Senate lost his seat to a Republican truck driver for $200. I like to always say that’s the good news, you know what the bad news was? In Biden’s America, we just lost another truck driver. What we find is it wasn’t just there. In New York, the Democrats put on the ballot HR1–their number one, trying to change election law. That was defeated. In Minneapolis, where this Defund the Police started, they voted against it. Then out on the West Coast [in Seattle] we elected a city attorney–a Republican who believed in law and order. So, it shows better.”

    Another indicator, McCarthy said, is increased retirements among incumbent Democrats–the number is now at 25 Democrats who have thrown in the towel and are not running for reelection.

    “The other thing you want to look at is retirements,” McCarthy said. “Members, if they start retiring, they understand what’s going to happen. Remember what history says. Since World War II, whichever party wins the White House, Republican or Democrat, on average they’ve lost 28 seats in the next election. Only two times that didn’t happen since World War II, after we impeached Clinton and after 9/11–two special cases. Well, 28 seats are a lot. In 2010, when you know we won 63 seats, only 17 Democrats retired. In the last election cycle, we targeted 55 Democrats and only one of those 55 retired. Did you know by December they broke the record of 2010 retirements? There were 19 Democrats retiring as of the beginning of December. So, what we’re seeing is the Democrats know what’s going to happen as well.”

    McCarthy also said that Biden’s approval rating is another sign of bad things to come for Democrats–and all of that combined with redistricting this year presents a “perfect storm” opportunity for Republicans to build a lasting majority this November.

    President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and the vaccination in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 17, 2021. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

    “The last thing I really look at is the presidential approval,” McCarthy said. “Any time the presidential approval is below 50, that party is in trouble. All those things are lining up, and so what that means is there is an opportunity here. But there’s something different, it’s almost like a perfect storm and it probably won’t happen again for another 50 years where you have the party in power with a small majority for the first time in a hundred years of five seats, they just won the White House so history says they should lose seats, the generic ballot where it is, and redistricting. Redistricting doesn’t matter for the Senate, it only matters for the House and they only do it once every 10 years–once a decade. They’re doing it this year. So there is a really good chance if this election cycle holds and Republicans win, we might be able to have a conservative majority for 10 years and hold it because they’re not going to change the lines. This is what the viewers have to understand. Republicans should be in the majority today. But [Eric] Holder and [Barack] Obama went out and raised money and sued and they were able to flip more than the five seats of the majority we don’t have today by making North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other states run in new lines. They tried to go utilize politics in redistricting instead of empowering the people.”

    In 2020, every Republican who defeated an incumbent Democrat was a woman, a minority, or a veteran–and the GOP saw more women elected than in any previous election. McCarthy said this candidate quality is similarly important in 2022. McCarthy pointed to several up-and-coming GOP candidates, like Monica de la Cruz Hernandez in Texas and Derrick Van Orden in Wisconsin.

    “What we talked about last time, and it holds true to this day–when we were on your radio show–the quality of the candidate is the number one attribute of whether you’re going to win,” McCarthy said. “We have better candidates running today than at any given time. We have more candidates. We have more diversity, but it’s still the conservative view. Think for one moment, when Tony Gonzales won, he represents more than 42 percent of the border. Monica de la Cruz is going to become a congresswoman down in southern, along the border of Texas–a Latina Republican. We’re watching people switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. We’re watching that in the polling when you look at the Hispanic support for Democrat or Republican it’s even for the first time. So you’ve got like Derrick Van Orden in Wisconsin who ran against Ron Kind–former Navy SEAL, and Ron Kind retired. You look at across the country the recruits we have you’ll find they’re more fired up because they’re watching the country change before their eyes based upon this one-party rule with the Democrats.”

    He summarized this point by noting that his goal is to run a full slate of candidates–all 435 congressional districts–and challenge the Democrats everywhere, “in every district.”

    Republican Monica De La Cruz running for the 15th House Congressional District, talks in her office in Alamo, Texas, Thursday, July 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

    Republican congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden, who is running in Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District. (VanOrdenforCongress.com)

    “So, our best ability to win: stop their policies, first of all, recruit very good candidates–conservatives who believe in America and that America is exceptional–and compete,” McCarthy said. “If we can get more Democrats to retire, it’s going to let us play in more races. But we’re not just going to play in seats we think we can win. We need to challenge them in every single district in America. That’s my goal. It doesn’t matter what Democrat you are. You voted for these policies that harmed America. We’re going to challenge you. It doesn’t matter that you’re sitting in a seat that maybe Biden won by 10 points. I think it could be competitive and winnable this time. That’s what in Virginia happened, so why can’t it happen in other parts of the country?”

    Back in 2019, McCarthy broke down for Breitbart News those 31 Trump-won, Democrat-represented districts as key to the GOP strategy for retaking the House majority in 2020. This time, though, he said a big difference between 2020 and 2022 is the new district lines coming together nationwide from redistricting. A little more than half of states have completed the process, and several other states are close to doing so.

    “The difference is there are going to be new districts,” McCarthy said. “There are going to be new districts but you still know what the performances are–and you’ve got an unpopular president because of unpopular policies. And look, I started a site I think every American should go to–FirePelosi.com. Join us to help this happen, to fire Pelosi once and for all. She’s the cornerstone of making these bad policies go forward. But what we have is the number of candidates throughout and I’ve watched even if you are in a district that if you take it back and you measure it and Trump didn’t win it I think it’s competitive because if that election was today Trump would win it because you’re able to see the difference.”

    The poor performance of the Biden administration across the board on major issues is making the GOP case a lot easier to make to voters this year, too. McCarthy, who had days before this interview was taped in early December set a new record for the longest House floor speech in history when he ripped not just the Biden Build Back Better agenda bill but also more broadly the Democrat vision for the country. McCarthy overtook House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the record-longest floor speech in House history with this one.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks on the House floor during debate on the Democrats’ Build Back Better Act at the U.S. Capitol on November 18, 2021, in Washington, DC. (House Television via AP)

    “I didn’t set out to break a record. I wanted to break down the bill for the American public. When I went in there, I had written a speech that would probably take about an hour,” McCarthy said when asked about the speech. “In Congress, the leaders get what is called a ‘magic minute.’ But when I started talking, you could hear the Democrats getting more upset with the more I told America about the bill. I even quoted some of the Democrats–I was quoting Congresswoman Spanberger from Virginia when she said they didn’t elect Joe Biden to be FDR. I don’t know if the public could hear but in the back of the room, Congresswoman AOC yells ‘I did!’ Then, Tim Ryan, who tries to portray himself as a moderate but is one of the most leftist socialists you could find, he was partnering with AOC and they would try to taunt me to try to interrupt me. It only made me go longer. Then, once Speaker Pelosi realized I wasn’t going to give back the mic, she got angry and she would walk around and tap all the Democrats and tell them to leave. She had to go to the parls [parliamentarians] to try to find a way to take my time away. But she couldn’t–the rules. So once they all left, they were yelling ‘bye’ to me and I said that’s fine I’m going to stay and said ‘I wasn’t speaking to you I was speaking to the American public.’ What’s most interesting is they would go to the back inside the cloakroom and watch me live. I knew they were frustrated because the truth was coming out.”

    More broadly, McCarthy said that complete Democrat control in Washington has not worked out so well for Americans.

    “Think about America in one-party rule in one year. What has happened? This bill would culminate a lot of that and even make it harder for us,” McCarthy said. “But think about it, in one-party rule with Democrats having the House, the Senate, and the White House–are we better off? No. Our borders are open, we now have inflation created by them on their first bill, we got crime in our streets based off them defunding police, all these principles that they have. We’ve got gas prices going off the roof and a president who looks to OPEC to solve these problems while he cuts American jobs and America’s ability to be energy independent. We proved we can do that by lowering the price. All these challenges that American families have today, the struggles, were all created by this one-party rule and we can change all that in less than a year.”

    Some Democrats, like Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), have tried to brand themselves as “normal.” Asked about this rebranding effort, McCarthy laughed–“no” they are not normal, he said–noting that Democrats repeatedly vote for radical policies like the Build Back Better bill.

    Rep. Conor Lamb looks on as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a news conference to discuss legislation on Social Security benefits on Capitol Hill October 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

    “But I would say they could have that definition if they lived that way,” McCarthy said. “They voted exactly the same as AOC and Nancy Pelosi. So the only norm is the new socialist Democrat. They will go out and try to market themselves different, but they have given the socialists the power. It only takes four Democrats to stop any bill on the floor. Only one of them voted against that. All these other Democrats have voted for it and walked lock step with building inflation, in not securing the border, in letting crime continue to rise, and what have they done about the gas prices? They’ve only empowered OPEC to be stronger and Russia with Putin. Look what Putin has been doing in bringing havoc throughout Europe.”

    After McCarthy’s nearly nine-hour floor speech exposing Build Back Better, zero Republicans voted for the bill when the House Democrats eventually got it passed–and one Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), made opposition to it bipartisan. The bipartisan opposition coming out of the House seems to have, along with the continued rising inflation, led to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announcing his opposition to Build Back Better–which has for now killed the critical Biden agenda legislation. Combined with Biden’s dead agenda, a series of economic conditions–inflation, supply chain issues, and more–severely threaten Democrats heading into next year.

    “What’s so sad about having inflation is we have not witnessed this type of inflation in more than 30 years,” McCarthy said. “The sad part is it wasn’t just Republicans warning Democrats when they took over and went to this one-party rule where they would pass whatever philosophy and principles they wanted by not working on a bipartisan basis but they went after that $2 trillion bill when they first came in. They called it a COVID relief but only 9 percent went to COVID. We warned them about that. The interesting part is it wasn’t just Republicans warning. Larry Summers, remember who Larry Summers is–prominent Democrat, worked in the Clinton administration and Obama administration–he said ‘don’t do this, it will bring inflation.’ The Democrats said ‘no, no, no, it’ll just be transitory’ and then we found around December that even the Fed said stop using that word. You had in June the president on a town hall meeting on CNN says he doesn’t know anyone who’s nervous about inflation while every American was out there paying more on their price of food, of gas, every part of life was costing them more. We found that employers couldn’t get somebody to go back to work–why? Because of that one-party rule as well, that policy where government paid people more to stay home hurt the small businesses that are barely surviving if they could through COVID. Now they had to pay. More for an individual to get there. When you add that much to the money supply in, every economist will tell you you’re going to create inflation. They doubled down on it. That’s the real fear with reconciliation, that they’re going to spend $5 trillion. Put that in perspective: In today’s money, that’s more money than we spent to win World War II. What are they spending it for? Just on their own socialist type programs and what they believe in is going to cause greater inflation and a supply chain that’s already broken. Remember when the president went back a number of months ago and said he was going to fix the supply chain and he said he was going to make people in the ports work 24/7 but then what we found in December was that made no difference whatsoever because the core of the problem is he’s relying on other countries for their products instead of having America make their products and send them overseas.”

    McCarthy said that America is currently too dependent on foreign countries for critical goods, as evidenced by the supply chain crisis. Asked how to fix it, McCarthy said the answer is “an America first agenda.”

    “That’s what Republicans have been doing. I’m from California. When I look at those ships, I’ve never seen this many ships before,” McCarthy said. “The worst part is when they’re coming in and unloading they’re going back empty. I want to see our ports full, but I want to see our ports full with American products going into on the ships selling them in other countries. A couple reasons why the cause of that’s happening. The cost of energy, to produce something in America, is competitively not getting there. In reconciliation, they get a tax advantage if you’re domiciled in another country and not here. We’ve watched what they’ve done just trying to get workers, where government has competed with business and says ‘I’ll pay you more to stay home’ so now we have got a workforce where more people are staying home when they could fulfill these jobs. It’s their policies that made our supply chains worse and that made us more dependent on other nations.”

    McCarthy pointed to Biden’s energy policies as devastating not just for gas prices but for the broader economy as well.

    Some of the highest gas prices in town are posted on a signboard at a gas station in downtown Los Angeles, California, on June 22, 2021, as gasoline prices rise. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

    “The president, can you imagine, the president of the United States goes into office and shuts down an American pipeline but okays Putin for a pipeline in Europe?” McCarthy said. “Then he shuts down our ability to drill on federal land, our ability to–he makes it more difficult to get the capital for those to go out and explore. The price of oil goes up. When he does that, what is his answer? To release 50 million barrels of crude? That doesn’t do anything–the price doesn’t go down. Then, at the same time, he denies further exploration for America. He asks OPEC to produce more and blames OPEC.”

    Historically speaking, McCarthy said that much of the Biden era resembles Democrat Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

    “A lot of this, you study history as history repeats itself. At any given time, and you’re younger than I am and you may not remember this or may not have been born in that time, but in the late 70s in 1979 we had a president in Jimmy Carter who had this talk at the White House,” McCarthy said. “He put a sweater on and he told Americans to turn the heater down and that we needed to expect less of America. We’re hearing that from the White House, that we should expect less for Christmas, that we should expect less as Americans. I disagree with that wholeheartedly. In that year, you only filled your gasoline tank up if your license plate ended in even numbers on even days and odd numbers on odd days because we were reliant upon OPEC instead of American energy. In that time, we had inflation–much like we have today. At that time, we had a president that had a brother named Billy Carter that had challenges we had been told because Libya had invested in a business with him. Now, we have a president who has a son called Hunter Biden where we are finding there are ties to China. There are so many similarities. We had a challenge in the late 70s where Americans were held hostage in the Middle East. How many Americans are still stuck in Afghanistan? We had a challenge where we had a president who tried to rescue those hostages and the helicopters couldn’t even land properly. They crashed. So our allies around the world didn’t really trust us and our enemies didn’t fear us. Now, we watch what President Biden in the dysfunction of Afghanistan where there are 13 new Gold Star families, you had left American citizens back when he told us a month before that he would not leave until they were all out, gave the wrong message to our adversaries and the wrong message to our allies. It made America weaker. All those same similarities–how did America come out of that? With strong conservative principles. We stopped inflation and made our economy stronger by cutting regulation and lowering taxes. We rebuilt our military. We defeated the Soviet Union. We watched the independence and the growth of our economy and we watched America become energy independent, which made the world safer.”

    To top it all off, Biden has failed to shut down the coronavirus pandemic as he promised to do during his campaign and first year in office as cases surge to record highs. In fact, more people have died from coronavirus in America in less time under Biden than did under Trump.

    “And Joe Biden’s presidency started with three vaccines,” McCarthy said. “Put it apples to apples: Joe Biden said in his debate that if anyone was president and he gave a number of the number of deaths should no longer be president. He has surpassed that number. He has had vaccines, which I think is tremendous we are even with American ingenuity to even be able to creates vaccines not one but three in that amount of time with the amount of testing we did and everything else. President Trump deserves a lot of credit for that. Here, Joe Biden walks into a presidency with vaccines able to provide to the American public and he has more deaths and doesn’t have a game plan. What does he do to those first responders, those in the health industry, those at supermarkets, the police, the firemen, who were heroes in the first year of staying on the job and keeping America working? Now, he mandates to them and he fires them in the time of an economic crisis? He’s got this backwards.”

    Asked if Biden should apply that standard he applied to Trump to himself, and step aside from the presidency, McCarthy said that Biden simply cannot be trusted.

    “Well does he keep to his word? He also said he wouldn’t leave Afghanistan until every American was out. He lied to us in weeks,” McCarthy said. “Time after time after time. Watch what he has done to our border. In a less amount of time–if you add the last three years, 2018, 2019, and 2020, and you take all the illegal crossings, he has surpassed that in a short amount of time because what did he do? How much money did he spend to not build the wall? What he’s finding is his policies are wrong. This is what the next election should be about: this one-party rule that in one year all the problems it brought us. The sad part about all of this is if Joe Biden had been sworn into office and had just sat there and done nothing, America would be stronger today.”

    To add insult to injury, McCarthy said, Biden has not held China accountable for the virus–and instead did nothing to stop China from hosting the winter Olympics this year.

    “Why would the world reward China with the Olympics again–this will be twice, and it hasn’t been in America–when we know where COVID came from?” McCarthy said. “Why wouldn’t China want to be the very first to know where it originated from? How was it created? We get new variants and new variants, with the millions of people around the world. Why would they threaten countries who want to know the origins of COVID? To say you’re just not sending diplomats–they probably couldn’t have gone anyway because of COVID. Where is the strong leadership? Why didn’t the world get together and say ‘we’re going to hold the Olympics but they’re not going to be in China’ and just move it to another location? That would be leadership. But time and again, we’ve watched this president send China the wrong message. Why don’t they hold China accountable? I mean, when I look what China has done, in the last administration–I mean in the Obama administration–Xi Jinping promised Obama that the islands they’re building would not be weaponized and they’re weaponized. We watched China promise the world for 50 years Hong Kong would be the same. No, they moved in. They knocked down Democracy. China threatens Australia when Australia wants to find out where COVID originated from. How many promises have they made to us that they have not kept? Why would we expect any different behavior from China if this administration is not going to hold their feet to the fire?”

    In the interview, McCarthy also addressed some hurdles that Republicans will face over the year–in particular some divisions in the GOP conference. With regard to the Biden “Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework” that 13 House Republicans voted for, he noted that it was almost impossible to stop it once it came over from the Senate–but he still whipped against it. He also defended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) from Democrat attacks and said the breaks from tradition that Pelosi has overseen this past year represent her “burning this House down as she walks out the door.”

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    “You work together on the policy. And you’ve got to put in perspective with some of these votes. The infrastructure bill, once three voted for it, it was going to pass,” McCarthy said. “The Republicans–it came from the Senate, it didn’t come from the House. So from that perspective that’s different. The January 6 commission is no different. Every single Republican, even if they vote for a commission, the challenge was Pelosi not giving us everything for it. It was a better position than what this politicized committee is doing now. So I have no ill about any of those. You vote your district, you vote your conscience, you just don’t surprise me. I’m very happy where this conference is–we’re more united. But what the Democrats are doing is trying to divide us. They go and they punished Marjorie for something she did before she was even a member. Where did that standard ever come from? They never hold their own members accountable. This is the difference in the new Congress. The things the Democrats have done, that Pelosi has done, is burning this House down as she walks out the door. She has taken away the minority’s right to have an amendment with a motion to recommit. She said bills didn’t have to go through committee. She brought proxy voting so members don’t even have to show up to work to get paid. You got Democrats sitting on boats that are voting.”

    McCarthy has been notably different, too, than McConnell in his approach to leading their respective conferences. McCarthy has whipped against a number of Biden agenda bills, whereas McConnell has voted for–and whipped for–several Biden agenda bills.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other members of Congress look on in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2021. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

    “The Senate is a different body but one thing I would say is we all need to work together to achieve the majority,” McCarthy said when asked about the difference in style between them. “I’ll work with anybody to make America stronger. But I will fight anything that harms America, that brings more inflation, an open border, and others. I’m proud of our Republican conference. We’ve held strong together. The only challenge has been when something comes over from the Senate with a lot of Senators on it that is a bad bill, it’s greater pressure on us. When reconciliation was voted for the first time, after I gave that speech, the only bipartisan vote was a no vote. That makes you stronger when you’re standing up together.”

    McCarthy said that if and when Republicans get the majority back, the first thing he intends to do is “grab that gavel.” But then he noted that he intends to return Congress to operating under “regular order,” where bills goes through committee. He said he will also end proxy voting on day one, and force members to be present to vote.

    “You’ve got to have the gavel to govern,” McCarthy said. “The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to sit down and we’re going to end proxy voting. Members are going to have to show up to be there. Bills are going to go through committee. Return to regular order. We’re also going to evaluate these committees and make sure they’re not dysfunctional and refocus it on what America wants us to be focused on. We will lay out to the American public the Commitment to America. We will be prepared to govern on the first day. The Democrats laid out a schedule and then once they won Georgia they took a recess because they didn’t know what to do. You need to be very clear with the American public that first we’re going to build back–we’re going to secure the border. We’ll come back creating American energy independence with all of the above and bringing American jobs back, making sure we’re lowering our gas prices. We’re going to curb this runaway spending to stop inflation. We’re going to cut regulation to focus on small businesses that have been trying to survive. We’re not going to allow government to make it more competitive with small business where it’s more competitive for an American to stay home than to go to work. We’re going to take away this disincentive to not work. In reconciliation, they take away work requirements. They take away Social Security cards as a requirement to have a tax credit that 90 percent of American families will get. They’re going to just be getting a check to stay home. That’s not right. We want to give the incentive to go to work. We want to give you the incentive of purpose and of being better in the process and having your family stronger. We’re going to make sure we’re not defending the police. We’re going to make sure the parents’ bill of rights is passed. We’ve got a long list of things that need to be fixed and we need to move forward on.”

    McCarthy said that the structural issues with how Washington has operated the past several years under both parties where congressional leaders do not follow regular order is a large part of why bad policy emerges from big bills.

    “The one thing I also look at it is yeah, we need to have good policy to win the majority but also what will we do with the structure of Congress?” McCarthy said. “If you have the same structure, you’ll get the same dysfunction. What I will end on the first day is there will be no more proxy voting. That has never been an American [principle]. You’re going to have to show up to work. Bills are going to have to go through committee to make sure they’re debated. In a proxy vote, you’re empowering the speaker to have all those votes in their back pocket. They’re writing the bill, calling you back, and then it goes through. That’s why you get bad policy. You want the light of day.”

    Another major part of what Republicans will do in the majority, McCarthy said, is oversight. He pointed to three particular areas of interest that the GOP is already working on: Afghanistan, China, and education, in particular the Department of Justice targeting parents at the behest of the National School Boards Association.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks during a press conference June 23, 2021, in Washington, DC. McCarthy and other members of the House Republican caucus called for a congressional inquiry into China’s role in the origins of the COVID-19 virus. Also pictured is Rep. Elise Stefanik. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    “We’re also going to hold this administration accountable. In the minority, we don’t have subpoena power. In the majority, there are a lot of places that we have an accountability project,” McCarthy said. “The first thing we’re going to hold this administration accountable for is what really happened in Afghanistan. Who knew what when and where? How many Americans are still left there? What equipment was left behind? The knowledge so this never happens again. Then we’re going to go after and holding China accountable and where did COVID originate, the gain-of-function that we’ve watched Fauci lie about and then have to come forward on, holding China accountable in this process. Then you know what else we’re going to do. We’re watching that there’s no longer equal justice in America. They have now politicized the Department of Justice. We’re going to investigate and hold accountable the National School Board Association with the DOJ. Remember when they made the DOJ go after parents who were going to school board meetings? We’ve now found from a memo that the National School Board Association met with the president, then a letter came, then the DOJ took that letter to go after parents and to treat them as terrorists. Then the School Board Association took back the letter. Why did they do that? Now, we’re watching the Department of Justice utilize for political purposes and sue red states for redistricting but allow gerrymandering of Illinois or New York or Oregon? There is no equal justice and we will have the power to hold accountability for that. We are going to investigate the accountability of the border. Why did the border become insecure? How much money is this administration spending on not building the wall? I think that will change the course. Every committee has an oversight mechanism, and we’re going to utilize our oversight to hold this administration accountable, which right now is not being done.”

    While McCarthy said these investigations are already underway from Republicans in the minority, with a majority they will be supercharged.

    “We’ve already started the investigation in Afghanistan. This is the challenge with being in the minority. You don’t have subpoena power,” McCarthy said. “We’ve been using in the Intel Committee and Armed Services–we’ve sent letters to everyone we think to hold the information or the evidence that we can go by and look at. Every single committee in America has an oversight subcommittee. We’re going to enhance that because we believe in holding this administration accountable. I think where sunlight is, things are better. One thing we have found in here–Afghanistan, how can you leave Americans behind? How can you have 13 new Gold Star Families? Why did that take place? Bagram? Why did you close Bagram first? How did the prisoners get out? How much weaponry did you leave behind for the Taliban? Why did you tell us every American would get out and then you left? All these are answers that we need to know and this should be bipartisan. Every American should be upset by this, of what’s going on. Our allies are upset about what’s going on. Then you want to look at the Department of Justice and utilizing one letter to go after parents and treat them as terrorists. Why can’t we get to the bottom of where COVID originated from? Why can’t we hold China accountable and why can’t we get a real answer to the gain-of-function? Did it happen or did it not? Why does that answer keep changing and what’s the policy going forward with that? Those are just three different accountability projects that we will be able to oversee–and others–by having subpoena power to get to the bottom of it.”

    McCarthy also said he does not have any one particular person in charge of oversight and instead intends to spread it across all the congressional committees.

    “I’m not going to make just one [member] it [the point person on oversight],” McCarthy said. “Every committee has jurisdiction. But you have an oversight committee. You want to watch Congressman Comer. He has done a tremendous job already. He will be empowered. But you look at in the Intel Committee that will be Afghanistan and Armed Services will be Afghanistan, you watch in Judiciary where Jim Jordan would become chairman. There’s a lot of oversight he could do there. I didn’t bring this up yet but you now have an administration that released private tax forms of Americans. Maybe America didn’t get mad because the ones they released were of wealthy people but remember what happened when you had the Obama and Biden administration the last time. They used the IRS to go after people who had given politically to some other direction. Remember they use government to punish people. That’s why you’ve got to have equal justice in America. But if they can release, the IRS, your tax forms, they can do it to any American. Jim Jordan has the ability to oversee that. You look at in Oversight they have a lot of jurisdiction there. But I want to empower every single committee in their jurisdiction to have the oversight. This is where I’ve been working with members now, and we’re not waiting until the election–we’re trying to do everything we can to bring accountability back.”

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