HH: Pleased to welcome for a couple of segments the leader of the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy from the great state of California. By the way, Leader McCarthy, Happy New Year to you, your Central Valley is getting drenched.
KM: We are, and I will tell you, it’s water needed. But because we have been so dry for so long is when you get the mudslides. And you know, a couple of months ago when we had the rain to come in, both Highway 58 and I-5 got closed down.
HH: It’s a wild day out here. I’m coming your way. You’re probably coming my way overnight. But let’s go, first of all, congratulations, repeal of Obamacare, the House and the Senate agree, you got it done.
KM: We got it done. And that’s a very important vote, and it’s a long time coming. But now it’s going to his desk. And my point on the floor I was making today, the Democrats over there, okay, they’ll fight against it, but you know what? They helped us when we wanted to delay medical device, the Cadillac tax, when we took other parts of the health care bill off. They voted with us, right?
KM: So they know this plan doesn’t work. And when we send this to the President, we’re going to have a veto override. And a great thing about having this new year, we’re only a year away from a new president. And next time, we can fully repeal it.
HH: Well, congratulations, very important. It’s also going to be an exhibit in the Potemkin presidential library that’s otherwise empty, that his signature legislation was overridden by the House, even though he vetoed it. So Leader McCarthy, in those negotiations which you just referenced, and you won some and you lost some, you and Paul Ryan were the lead negotiators here. If the President had brought up some of the stuff that he says he wants on gun control, like mental health funding, if he had brought it up at the end of last year, could that have been on the table last year?
KM: You know, he could have tried to bring it up then. That’s when you went through the funding process. He brought nothing up. Remember, this is not an executive order, but an executive action. He’s going to have to come to Congress. I don’t see, you know, we uphold the Constitution here. That’s what we get sworn into. I don’t see how you go around the Constitution. It’s not going to work, on his part.
HH: Well, I agree with that, but I just wish reporters would point out if he really felt so passionately about this to cry in public, you would think he would have asked for the money for the agents four weeks ago when you guys were at the table talking about that stuff.
KM: Yeah, that, because when did all the other signs take place that he was most concerned about? If he was really that concerned, why wouldn’t he uphold and prosecute the current laws on the book, because if you just look at just last year, he’s about half the number that under the Bush administration prosecuted that year. So he’s not doing that, even. So if this was so important to him, why wouldn’t he have taken those actions?
HH: So when it comes down to oversight, I saw that the chairman of Judiciary has promised close oversight. How does the House keep an eye on a president who thinks Article I’s been erased?
KM: You know, we’re going on the Republican retreat next week, and you know one of our breakout sessions is Article I, because we have to make sure we reinstitute that, the rest of the country knows it, and that we uphold it.
HH: And with specific regard to these actions and the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who runs those hearings? I just got done talking to Mike Pompeo about the David Petraeus conversation that he can’t tell me in specific about…
KM: No, yeah, that’s a special committee.
HH: Yeah, that’s a heck of an oversight. They’re doing a hell of a job. But I want that on the gun side, too, because the Constitution matters.
KM: Well, every single committee has oversight. Judiciary has oversight. Appropriations have oversight if you saw our appropriators out there just yesterday talking about that. Remember, they tried to take some of these actions with registering bullets, and we were able to stop that in the last process through appropriations. But Judiciary is looking at it right now coming back through.
HH: Did Democrats help you, Majority Leader McCarthy, in the bullet shutdown when they tried that end around?
KM: Not much, no.
HH: Are there, what I’m trying to get at is I think Democrats are afraid of this issue, because they know the American people agree with you.
KM: You know what? Remember when the Democrats took the majority. What did Rahm say? They wouldn’t touch this, because they knew what would happen to them. And if the President really cared about it, you made the very important case right now. We just came off the end of the year where we had an omni, where every entity can bring up whatever issue they wanted to. He never brought this up. If you look at the President’s track record on prosecution of current law, he does not go forward on that. So this is a real case that he tries to supersede, but never lean into what he really believes.
HH: Majority Leader McCarthy, before we go to break you served alongside of Rahm Emmanuel in the House, I think.
KM: For a short time period, yeah.
HH: Short period of time. Do you think the mayor of Chicago should resign, given the collapse of sort of his authority and the cover-up underway?
KM: I think you see he no longer has the support of the community. I mean, I looked at the latest polling, overwhelmingly thinks he should resign. The current governor said if that Democratic legislature sent him a bill to recall the mayor, he would sign it. I think there’s a lot of momentum there with a lot of answers that he needs to go forward. I do not see the days where Rahm continues to stay in there. This is a situation where he has not answered the questions needed. He’s lost the trust of the people. I don’t see how he can continue to govern.
HH: I’ll come back and continue my conversation with the Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, in just a moment.
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HH: I want to talk about the regular order. Before I do, though, Mr. Majority Leader, I was talking with Mike Pompeo about the hearing they had today with David Petraeus. He can’t talk about the specific, obviously, but I have seen the movie 13 Hours. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance, yet.
KM: I have not seen that, yet.
HH: Well, it is so riveting and so compelling. I hope you can arrange to show it to the Republican retreat. What do you guys, what do you have lined up for this retreat?
KM: You know, this retreat, we have the Senate with us, the Senate Republicans as well, which I think is very healthy, because a lot of our challenge isn’t what comes out of the House, but what comes out of the Senate after coming out of the House, the Democrats and that 60 vote rule. And there’s one thing that Speaker Ryan worked on when we worked on getting the omni, and that was for the Democrats to stop filibustering our appropriation process. He got Harry Reid to say publicly that he would not filibuster bringing the bills up. Now that doesn’t mean he might not filibuster shutting them down or moving forward, but the American public could actually see what we’re going through there.
HH: Oh, so if the House sends…
KM: We have a lot of different speakers coming in, but the one thing we want to do together is craft our agenda that we unite together on, and move big, bold ideas.
HH: Now expand on what you just said. That’s news, actually. If Harry Reid, I was unaware that he’d given a commitment to allow appropriations bills to be brought up and debated. You might not be able to close debate, but is it, do I understand that right, that you have a commitment?
KM: He made the commitment to the Speaker that he would not filibuster the bills to be brought up for approps, because right now, the thing the American people do not know, what the Democrats have done, they’re the ones that were shutting down government. They were the ones that were not allowing in the Senate anything to be brought up, to actually hold the country hostage. Remember, when we did the Defense bill, what did the President do? He vetoed it. He was putting our veterans in play on politics, which has never been done in the past. But now, we’ve got, in that agreement, where Reid publicly said he would not filibuster, so we can get onto the bills and start debating the approps process, and now that we had the agreement ahead of time for the dollar amount, we can be able to move what you talked as regular order as well. But this is where real work can be done.
HH: Now take us into the Defense bill, because this is of greatest interest to this audience, because we talk about it quite a lot. That means, I gather, that the House will be able to pass with great specificity an authorization and an appropriation, send it up to the Senate, and there will be a debate, and there will be a vote at least a vote, or there’ll be a discussion. I don’t know if they’ll be able to close it, on the specifics of Defense funding, because they can never actually, once it gets started, I can’t imagine them not voting yes on that.
KM: Yeah, the key part here is what you’ll have is exactly what we’re talking about, the authorizations. So the first part, you want to get NDAA, which the Chairman, Mac Thornberry, has done so many times before. The President played politics with it this time. We get that done, and then when we have the approps process, we have 12 bills. One happens to be Defense. Now Defense in 2016, what we were able to do, is $548.1 billion dollars. That was a $25 billion dollar increase, where we cut from mandatory to be able to make that happen, because remember what sequester had done to the military, and especially what’s going on around the world right now. So we were able to do that this time, and the next time we’ll come back in, we’ll start writing the bills earlier. We’ll have Defense very early. And within there, you’ve got another $15 billion dollars coming off the last sequester number. It’ll get you into about $551 from the old number to go forward this year. So you’ll see that work done early, and you put that on the floor. The number one issue in the country, which your listeners know, because they talk about it so often, is Defense. How are we going to protect this country? Look at the weakness this country has become under this President’s policies. Look what North Korea just did. And do you really believe, we don’t know, yet, that it was a hydrogen bomb or not, but would that, would North Korea have done that had the President’s policies, remember, what was it, the Treasury Department saying that they were going to add more sanctions onto Iran…
KM: …because what did Iran do in November?
HH: Tested an inter-continental ballistic missile.
KM: Launching in violations of the United Nations Security Council.
KM: And then in less than 42 minutes, back down?
KM: They understand weakness.
HH: So to sum up on this, when we come around again a year from now, we’ll have a new presidential election. But will the next nine months be about making sure the American people understand the difference between having both houses and the President? Is that, is this really just an education process?
KM: Well, I don’t think it’s just an education, it’s to truly show them what would it look like under new policy in the White House, what could this country look like. It’s no longer the management of decline from the White House, but the exceptionalism this country and the growth and the strength that we can have.
HH: And in terms of picking up seats, Steve Israel just quit, which tells me they have no prayer of taking the House back. But I don’t want to be overconfident. I’d like to pick up that seat. What do you think on the political side?
KM: Well, that seat’s an even seat, and one thing I will tell you, that goes into a lot of the psyche. Think about it. Israel was, Congressman Israel, was the DCCC, the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee chair last time. He is in leadership. That is a very tight race seat. It’s rated as an even, and he just announced that he was not going to run again. But also, look at how he was voting. When we went in and did the refugee bill, or when we did the visa waiver program, he voted with us.
HH: Interesting. Last question, Leader McCarthy, and you’ve been so generous with your time, thanks. The President wants increased number of ATF agents, increased number of FBI agents. I’m all for that. But you know, we had guys looking and gals looking at the terrorists who came into California, our state, and they waived them through. How do we know that more people means better results in these areas?
KM: You don’t, and that’s why you want to have an approps process, because you want to have accountability of government. Now what the President did was an executive action. So the action is not an order. So now he needs Congress approval, and this is where you’ve got to watch the appropriation process, where we go in and we look at and hold accountable, and bring these agencies in, to their ability to do their job. And lots of times, it’s not the answer of money, not the answer of structure. It’s not just throwing more people at the problem. It’s actually solving the problem. If you really want to solve this problem, so many times, it’s not the legal gun owner. What the problem happens to be is mental health. And that’s an area that we’ve got a Congressman, Murphy, has been looking at for so long. I mean, we have a Constitution here, and we put our hands and uphold the Constitution when we get sworn into office.
HH: Leader McCarthy, always a pleasure, good luck to you in the beginning of the year and the retreat. Look forward to talking to you again soon, Kevin McCarthy, from Central California, of course, the House Majority Leader.
End of interview.