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House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy On The Status Of Negotiations With The Democrats

Thursday, April 7, 2011
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HH: Joined now by Congressman Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, California. He is number three in the House of Representatives Republican leadership. He is their whip. Congressman, always a pleasure, thanks for coming back.

KM: Thanks for having me.

HH: What is the status on the riders? And will there be a compromise on the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting?

KM: Well, that’s what we continue fighting. The one thing we’ve always said, and you’ve got to understand, there has always been riders in these bills. The Democrats have put them in all the time. I mean, I was just on the Fox show with Steny Hoyer, and he was complaining because we had one rider in our continuing resolution right then. And I pointed out to Steny he voted for it eighteen times, so why is that now a problem for him.

HH: And so are these must-haves, though, for the Republican team, that Planned Parenthood and Corporation for Public Broadcasting completely defunded?

KM: Well, the thing we have always said, we went through in an open process, H.R. 1, and sent it to the Senate. And that’s what we’ve been fighting for the whole time. Now it would be much easier if the Senate could do the same thing – take up a bill on the floor, tell us where they are at, and send other…you know, maybe at the very beginning when I was young on Saturday morning, I watched Schoolhouse Rock, Just a Bill on Capitol Hill. Well, only one side is producing bills today. The Senate has 47 days, and has never acted. How do you negotiate with yourself?

HH: Agreed. You still, there’s a negotiation going on at the White House with the President mediating, or at least exciting him with Harry Reid against the Speaker. And the Speaker has to come back and talk to the caucus. Does the caucus tell him to stand firm on these two?

KM: Oh, yeah. The caucus gave him a standing ovation the other night, because you’ve got to understand. What the President is doing, like the President called him down last night, and they put them in the room, sent out all the staff, so it’s the President, the Vice President, it’s Reid, and just Boehner. And you know what they’ve been trying to do. They’ve been trying to isolate him, saying oh, you’ve got all the problems in your caucus. You’ve got all the problems with these outside groups. Boehner has never folded. And I give him credit for staying in the fight.

HH: Now Congressman Steve King was on yesterday, Kevin McCarthy…

KM: Yeah.

HH: And said that the caucus meeting had fueled the fear that the Speaker’s closest allies are basically hitting him with rubber hoses. I want to quote him here exactly, that you’re not part of the tribe if you’re not 100% with the Speaker. What do you think about that?

KM: No, we never say that. Look, we’re not Democrats. We’re Republicans. We believe in individual thinking here. But the one thing we all are, there’s not one person in that caucus, Steve King or anybody else, that isn’t fighting for the same goal. Now other people may have different tactics of how to get there, but the principles are not different. It’s like going on your computer and putting out some maps on how to drive somewhere. Someone takes the freeway, someone’s taking the road. But they’re all ending up in the same place.

HH: In terms of that same place, what’s the minimum number on budget cuts that you’ve got to get?

KM: Well, we continue to fight. We’re going to get as much as we can. I mean, look. We’ve put out, and you look at our budget. I know you and I have talked about this before. This is a long journey, but it’s a continual journey of where we’re going to go. This, only because we’re in a continuing resolution, we can’t go after certain things. So it’s after discretionary spending. You’ve just watched a budget that we went out where we’re going to cut $6 trillion. We continue each and every day to go after, to cut government, get a balanced budget, and pay off the debt.

HH: Now Kevin McCarthy, in the New York Times this morning, the reporter opined about the President and the Speaker, that their approaches, quoting now, their approaches set the stage for a test of their leadership that will provide a roadmap for how they will handle even bigger budget fights ahead. Do you believe that’s true, that the kind of deal that gets negotiated now is the kind of deal we’ll end up with in the fall on the big budget?

KM: You’ve got to remember about this fight. Remember when this fight started, what was the first principles of the fight? The President came to the State of the Union, and he said he will freeze discretionary spending, he will not cut. Well, we just won that first fight, okay, on the first days. Then, we kept cutting each and every way. Our goal has always been cut as far as we can, and grow jobs. We just produced a budget that not only talked about entitlements when no one else has ever done that. So first frame, what was that? Two years ago. We’ve not only changed Congress, we’ve changed the country where you look at how governors are now talking. They’re not talking about how much you’re going to spend. You’re talking about how much you’re going to cut.

HH: But if you don’t get what you need this time, why would anyone expect you could get what you need, and I’m hoping you do. I think the Speaker’s doing a fine job of standing firm. But if anyone folds, doesn’t that tell us that there will be another folding in the fall?

KM: No. Look, just like anything you go out…when you go out to buy a car, do you make your first offer, and that’s exactly what you get? Are you going to, at the end of the day, we’ll go after and get everything we can. Whatever we can’t get, we come back and get again.

HH: But why would we, we’ve got thirty seconds, why would we be able to get anything in October that you can’t get now?

KM: Well first of all, you’ve changed the whole dynamics of Washington. Before, they would never cut. They would only spend. In the first four weeks of Congress, if you take the last Congress, they increased spending by $585 billion. In the first four weeks of this Congress, we cut $550 billion. That is a fundamental change. Each and every day, it improves.

HH: Kevin McCarthy, thanks for joining us. Good work with Steny Hoyer today. I hope we talk to you again next week.

End of interview.

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