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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy On ISIS: If The President Won’t Act, We Will

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The GOP number two in the House of Representatives was a guest today with Congressman John Campbell guest hosting, and not only became the highest-ranking elected Republican to call for action wherever ISIS happens to be operating, regardless of borders, and also covered the landscape of between 15 and 20 House races that could flip from Democrat to Republican hands this November. The campaign links are embedded in the transcript below.

The audio:


The transcript:

JC: But not vacationing, and now with us, we have the House Majority Leader, the gentleman from California, the gentleman from Bakersfield, California, and my friend, Kevin McCarthy. Kevin, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

KM: Hey, thanks for having me, John. I appreciate you letting me call in.

JC: Hey, it’s great. Are you in Washington now? Or where are you?

KM: No, I’m actually in Michigan. I’ve been on the road. I was in Oklahoma yesterday. But we have a couple of races up here in Michigan, and you know, you’ve got the Senate race and the governor race going in Michigan, and so I’m doing a couple of events for some incoming members, hopefully, and going into Indiana, then on to Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and D.C. then.

JC: Wow, okay, so you’re a travelin’ man as they say. So you can be with us until the end of the hour, right?

KM: Yeah, yes.

JC: Okay, great, because we’ve got a lot of stuff to cover. But you started talking about some political stuff, and let’s talk about that first right out of the chute, because there’s a lot of focus these days on the Senate, and on taking the Senate. And I want to ask you about that later.

KM: Okay.

JC: And all the different Senate races, and you know, the chances of the Republicans taking the Senate, but we’ve got to hold the House, or taking the Senate doesn’t matter too much, except for appointments and so forth. So how does that look as far as holding the House, and what are those seats around the country that people should be watching and paying a lot of attention to? What are those races?

KM: Well, that’s a great question, because everyone’s focused on the Senate, but think for a minute, John, and you understand this better than most anyone. What would America look like if we had not won the majority in the House in 2010? Taxes, everything…

JC: Oh, and Obama could run away with it like he did in 2008, and oh, it would be awful.

KM: Exactly. And one the most important things of why, if I had the choice where I could just win the House or the Senate, and you could only win one, I’d always pick the House, because Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution says all taxes start in the House, not the Senate. So if you ever want reform, this is the place to be. But let’s talk about that. Currently, the Republicans are in the majority. They have 234 members. There’s about 205 seats of Republicans that I believe okay, you’re safe. But if you look at the climate, and Dems, I think there’s about 160. If you go through and you look at the toss-ups, there’s about 13 Democrat seats that I think are total toss-ups. Then there are about 11 Democrat seats that I think we could win as well. And toss-up means it could really go to the Republican side. And let’s walk through some of those. A lot of them happen to be in our own state of California, but let’s start in Arizona. Arizona-1, Kirkpatrick seat, this is an R+4, meaning it leans a Republican seat. She has been in one term within here. I think it’s a great opportunity. You’ve got Andy Tobin, they just had their primary, it just got determined. Andy is a conservative over there in the state legislature, actually was the speaker, great individual on all the tough issues. He’s led so many conservative movements there. The second is Arizona-2. This is Barber’s seat, currently R+3. Martha McSally, now Martha came last time less than 1,200 votes from winning the seat. Martha is the first female pilot in combat. She flew the A-10, remarkable woman, served our country so well. She would make such a great member. Those two in Arizona, you’ve got another one in Arizona, I’d say Arizona-9. We’ve got Wendy Rogers is our candidate again against Sinema. She’s a freshmen. This is R+1. All three of those are in play. Then I would look at California. And there’s really like four to five seats in California that could be in play – California-7, that’s Sacramento, that’s currently held by Bera. You’ve got Doug Ose running. Doug Ose is somebody that’s always been there in the community, the whole family, great opportunity. You’ve got California-3. This is Garamendi. And think for a moment how many years has Garamendi been in office in California? When you think of all the problems that were created, this guy’s been around forever. Dan Logue, state assemblyman, great opportunity there. Then if you come down and you look at the Brownley seat, this is Ventura area, you’ve got a great opportunity in Jeff Gorell. Jeff Gorell is a state assemblyman. He served in the Navy Reserves, served while he’s the state assembly, served our country in combat over there, and just a great opportunity. In the primary, where he had an open primary, anybody can vote for anybody, Jeff came just so many hundreds of votes behind Brownley, and if you look at the other Republican in the race, they had more than 50% voting the other way for Republicans.

JC: Kevin, let me stop you, because we’re coming up on a hard break here. But remember where we left off with Brownley there, and when we come back after the break, continue this list so we can, and hopefully we’ll get this stuff up on, because there’s a lot of information. People need to know what these House races are that matter.

— – — –

JC: Kevin, you were giving us a roundup of the important House races around the country, because if we’re going to do all we think we’re going to do next year, we’ll need not just to take the Senate, but we need to hold the House and hopefully increase that majority, so please continue.

KM: We need to increase that majority, John, you’re right. And let me just finish out California for you. California’s 36th. This is Brian Nestande as our nominee. This is down in Palm Springs/Palm Desert. Mary Bono used to be in this seat. This seat has actually trended more Republican, great opportunity. And you’ve got down in San Diego, California 52, Carl DeMaio. Carl is the one that kind of started the whole movement about pension reform in California, about accountability, a great candidate. We’ve got races in Florida, in Miami, Carlos Curbelo, an excellent candidate that we have in there to take back that seat. And then Illinois could be a very good state for us. And John, I think a Republican wins the governor of Illinois. But we’ve got, right in Chicago, Bob Dold, you know how hard a worker he is. Mike Bost in Illinois 12, this is a a great opportunity. Both candidates, you’ve got a small business owner going through. Even, we don’t have any Republican seats in Massachusetts, but this election will be different. And Tierney currently holds this seat. In Massachusetts-6, Richard Tisei came very close to winning last time, but the wave of the presidential year came over it. Tierney’s even been challenged by Democrats in the primary. But I think we’ll pick up Massachusetts right there. I mean, look at Minnesota, a seat that we haven’t had in years, Minnesota-8, Stewart Mills, a lot of people call him the Brad Pitt of the Republican Party. He, his hair’s a little longer, he’s a small business owner, understands what the Republican policy about limited government, letting people keep more of what they earn. Then you go into New York-1, Lee Zeldin, this is a veteran that has served our country. And then we could have the youngest woman Congresswoman in New York-21, Elise Stefanik. And she is brilliant. You know, one of her jobs, she actually prepped Paul Ryan for his prep in debate on the VP debate last year, that’s how smart Elise is.

HH: Kevin, let me, well, I was just going to say, let me stop you, because I want to get into, but go ahead and wrap up on that.

KM: The last seat I would look at is even West Virginia, Evan Jenkins. This is a solid Republican seat that the Democrats have held for a long time. And the President’s attack on coal, I think, is really going to take its toll. And you’re going to see West Virginia switch, and even the statehouse turn to a Republican majority. So there’s great opportunities. I think we can win anywhere from two to fifteen seats.

JC: And I want to try and get as much of what you just said up on, if not today, then tomorrow so that people know what these races are. And it’s not just about the Senate, it’s about the House as well. But I want to get into, we’re going to be back in session, I’ll see you in Washington on Monday, and we’re going to be back in session on Monday for a short two weeks. But there’s a lot happening in the world out there. And I want to ask you about the agenda. But before I get to that, I want to play a clip. We had Mike Rogers of Michigan, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, on this show earlier today, and he was talking about what he thinks we need to do relative to the ISIS situation. Play cut number nine, please:

MR: We ought to give this President authority to go after ISIS where they find them. They don’t sense borders. We ought not to sense those borders. We shouldn’t handcuff ourselves in an effort to degrade and disable their ability to conduct operations. And this does not mean big military movement. It does mean intelligence and some Special Forces type activity that would be required to be impactful, and to help our Arab League partners be more impactful. But it doesn’t mean big, structured, 101st Airborne type units. It does mean we’re going to have to get a little more involved on the ground.

JC: Okay, so that was Mike Rogers, chairman of the Intelligence Committee earlier today. Kevin McCarthy, he’s basically saying we need to give the President authority for action. Do you agree with him?

KM: I think we seriously have to look at different things that we’re going to give this President action for. But the first and foremost, this President has to have a strategy. I mean, what is our foreign policy? I mean, I don’t know what it is. And if we don’t know what it is, our allies don’t know, and our enemies don’t know, so they’re pushing the envelope.

JC: Right, I…

KM: And look at what the President said today. He said we need to destroy ISIS. And then when they came back on, he said well, no, no, not totally destroy, but just put them in a manageable position.

JC: Yeah.

KM: He thinks they are a jayvee team.

JC: Kevin, we actually played all those clips earlier today of him with exactly that point. But I think what Mike is saying is that if the President doesn’t act, that maybe we need to act to give him the authority to do something, if Congress is prepared to do that. Is that something…

KM: I think this is something we have to discuss. That’s why the four main committees are going to hold hearings when we first come back – Intel, which Mike Rogers is a part of, he’s the chairman of that, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Homeland, because homeland, what is the threat? So many of these individuals, and we need to go even further than what Mike talks about, because what about the number of visas or passports? I mean, if they have a Western passport, they don’t have to get a visa. They just get on a plane and come into the United States. I think we have to seriously look at everything that we’re doing. This is a much more serious situation than we’ve ever had before. And I think Mike Rogers brought up a very good point. They don’t have borders, and so we’ve got to put our intel and look at places differently. I am of support of going in and not sitting back, but creating a strategy of where we go. And if the President won’t act, I think we have to take some action to move forward.

JC: Thank you. I am in complete agreement with you, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, on that. We’ve got a little more than a minute and a half left in this segment. Talk about other things the House will be taking up in the next two weeks in Congress.

KM: Well, you know, we’ve got a short time coming back, but we have 352 bills, that’s 352 bills, 98% of them have at least one vote from a Democrat on the bills as well, sitting in the Senate that won’t get brought up. 40 of them are jobs bills. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to package some of these bills together, put a group of jobs bills together, and send them back over to the Senate where they can act, put a group of energy bills, because we actually almost have a complete national energy policy passed through the House that the Senate won’t bring up. Then the accountability, think of the work that Chairman Issa has done, and Dave Camp in Ways & Means, looking at what the IRS has done about targeting people, let’s start passing some accountability with the IRS to stop what they have been doing. And then health care, I just saw an article today about the premiums going up, especially on the small businesses, because they locked in their rates before Obamacare came in. But that’s now a year up in September. Remember, if you like your health care, you can keep it? Congressman Cassidy, who’s running for the Senate in Louisiana, he’s a doctor, he has a bill up and we’re going to pass that.

JC: Kevin, we’re coming on a hard break. I want to ask you some more, Kevin McCarthy, right after this break.

— – — –

JC: Kevin, we only have about three minutes left here to finish this, and I really appreciate you staying with us this long and giving us all the information you have. I want to get one thing with the Senate in a minute, but just for clarity on the ISIS thing, so you, you know, you believe that we should, and once we go through the committees and all that, that we should be creating some action in the House to give the President authority to do what he may need to do, whether he asks for it or not. Is that right?

KM: Yeah, yeah, but I think the key here is we have a problem because America’s not leading. We need a very clear, concise foreign policy doctrine of America. Currently, our friends don’t trust us, and our enemies don’t fear us. That’s what’s going on in America today. The President needs to develop a strategy. If you develop that strategy, we could say yes, support it or not. But we don’t need 535 foreign policy experts trying to run the military.

JC: Right.

KM: What we need is a concise strategy. And the President backtracks. He says one thing in a press conference, and moves back on his own words during the same press conference.

JC: Right…

KM: That’s creating chaos.

JC: But if he doesn’t, we’ll do something?

KM: Yes.

JC: Okay. As a final question for you here, you’re House majority leader. If we were to take the Senate and hold the House, and hopefully increase the majority next year, what does that mean for you as House Majority Leader, for the agenda that goes on in the House, when now we wouldn’t have 60 votes, but if we had 51 or 52 Republicans over there in the Senate, what does that mean for the House and its job and its agenda in 2015?

KM: Well, I think right off the bat, we have to start working. And I can think of five things at the very beginning we would do. Tax reform, national energy policy, the combination of those two, growing the economy, creating the synergy and bringing back manufacturing jobs, create the products, sell it overseas, you’d change repatriation so you could bring the profits back, have a competitive rate so you can compete nationwide, education reform. You know, we’ve got a million kids sitting on a waiting list for charter schools and others. You know, I know your boys are very bright individuals, and my son and daughter, I’m not worried about our kids competing against each other. I’m worried about our kids competing with India and China. Talk about the reform of these agencies. These agencies have become so large, so bureaucratic, they try to legislate, and they’re unaccountable. And there’s duplication throughout. Streamline this so we can unshackle what’s holding us back in the process to be able to compete. Those are the fundamental things that I think can get done right off the bat in the first year. Put that on the President’s desk. Today, Harry Reid protects the President. Nothing ever gets to his desk to make a decision. And all those things I talk about right there, we’ve been debating or moving inside the House, are sitting over in the Senate.

JC: Kevin McCarthy, thank you so much for being with us. Thank you for all this information. We’ll get a bunch of this up on Thank for all you’ll be doing in all those states in the next few days.

End of interview.



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