House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy joined me today to discuss the Iran deal and the House’s consideration of it:
HH: Joined now by the House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, Congressman from California. Majority Leader of the House now at a crucial moment actually in world history. Majority Leader McCarthy, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
KM: Thanks for having me, Hugh. I appreciate this.
HH: What is the status of the Iran deal? When’s it come to a vote? What do you think is going to happen?
KM: I actually just came back from Israel this month. [There about] thirty-five members on the members on the Republican side. I think the Democrats have like eighteen. We’ve actually had a couple of days of bipartisanship over there, looking and analyzing, at the same time, of how it would affect the region. So when we come back, there’s a clock that is ticking. We’ll have until September 17th according the parliamentarian, and in the House, we will take it up the first week. And when you look at this, Hugh – think about this – everything else in history, this should be a treaty. But the president wants to take foreign policy and make it like an executive action where he doesn’t even work for the two-thirds in the Senate to have a treaty or a simple majority in the House and Senate. But he wants to hold the minority within a minority to uphold the veto – to change the course of not just America, but of the world. You know, in thirteen years, if this goes forward, Iran could have a nuclear weapon that could be approved by America. Thirteen years is not that far away. Fifteen years ago was 9/11.
HH: What was the reaction in Israel to the proposed deal as you moved around the Israeli political and military elites?
KM: Both groups had some tremendous meetings with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, and he was the best I have ever seen him – the prime minister. He came in and brought a whiteboard and said, “I’ve cleared my schedule. I’ll take any question you have, and let’s walk through it.” And I’ve been throughout the region in other parts, I know the king of Saudi Arabia in today’s meeting with the President. I was over there six months into Iraq and then to Saudi Arabia. Their concern was more about the money Iran was going to get. Think about what Iran does with their money now when we have sanctions, but when you got a suspension, and they’re getting – which could be bigger than Greece bailout – what are they going to do with that money?
HH: Well that’s why I attempted to raise that yesterday with Donald Trump when we side-tracked into a rather infamous exchange now. But I wanted to know–
KM: You got a little tough on that, too, Hugh (laughs).
HH: (Laughs) Just a little. But a hundred and fifty billion in Soleimani’s hands is what I’m worried about. He is a mastermind of terror and what is Netanyahu and his colleagues say will happen to that money.
KM: Well, not only his colleagues, everyone that knows it around the world. He will fund terrorism. What has he done now from Yemen into Syria into Iraq into places. He is funding terrorism everywhere else and now you get a windfall. What happens when we read these stories if somebody is an addict and they get a windfall of money? They OD. This person – Iran – will OD, spend endless money for terrorism around the world. Privately, leaders in the Middle East have told me that they are more afraid of that money than they are of anything else, that that will disrupt and the safety of everything else that is happening. And maybe an advantage in different parts where we don’t know if we can sustain.
HH: Now Kevin McCarthy, there are thirty-four Senate Democrats already on the record. The second presidential debate in which I’m participating comes up and I’m sure the Iran deal will be on the table. If the House rejects it, and the Senate gets it to the vote and rejects, the floor of that debate on the 16th, do you think that’s going to happen so we have at least an opportunity to persuade the American people via the statements of the candidates on the stage about the deal.
KM: Yes, we will have it before then because of the deadline of the Senate piece, but the American people are there two-to-one opposed to this. Think of this. The American people – they had a poll last week – in the swing states. These are not red. These are not blue. These are the swing states. Two to one opposed to it. You have a majority – the bipartisan majority vote in the House and Senate will be opposed to it. The next leader of the Democrats inside the Senate is opposed to it. The ranking member on foreign affairs inside the Senate is opposed to it. Those that know and have studied and people that have been trusted, are opposed to it. In Israel, it’s not from one side or one party – the opposition of Bibi is opposed to it because they know it, they see it, they live it every single day. And the president isn’t trying to get the majority of America supporting, he’s trying to uphold a veto and just play the one-third. Who in the history of America’s presidency ever would lead foreign policy by trying to just hold one-third when everybody else says it’s the wrong thing to do.
HH: Well, I hope everyone listening contacts their senators and congressmen to urge a no-vote on the deal. Let me ask you a related question – whatever happens, especially if this deal goes through, we need America’s military to be funded and I believe the House has passed a defense appropriations bill, but I believe the Senate is filibustering that. Am I correct, Kevin McCarthy?
KM: Yes, you are. In the House, we’ve taken up the approps. process. The Senate has not. This is crucial to what the world will look like because people will have to realize, if this goes into agreement – it’s not just about Iran and America – there will be a nuclear weapon race. Why would any other country not hold back? And think about the change in pace. So now there’s a reason our allies don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us. That is becoming an unsafe world. You know what the President in Alaska – what does he look out when he looks at the strait? He looks out a number of Chinese ships. Georgia. What do they do they see this week? They see a spy ship from Russia sitting in a submarine port. They would have never taken this action before.
HH: Do you think the eighteen Democrats who went with you that you’ll get some of them to vote no?
KM: They have to. I do not see how they can walk where we walked. We went bipartisan to look at an Iron Dome system. The Iron Dome that sits there knocks down ninety percent of those missiles that came from Hamas in the Gaza Strip who are not far from it. But think for a moment, even in America, why we’re doing this agreement this Iran, they still can have ballistic missiles tested. Those are not missiles being tested to try to go to Israel. Those will go around the world, and thirteen years they can load those missiles with a warhead that is nuclear. And thirteen years, again, is not that far way – 9/11 was fifteen years ago.
HH: Kevin McCarthy, you make an elegant case. I hope people are listening and I hope they pick up the phones and they call their senators and Congressmen, especially those thirty-four Democrats in the Senate who’ve already made up their mind before the debate happens. It’s astonishing to me. Thank you for joining me, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the House of Representatives, just back from Israel.
End of Interview