House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is promising to secure the border, cut government spending and launch tough investigations into the Biden administration if Republicans win the House on Tuesday, reflecting a mix of priorities that will force McCarthy to contend with an increasingly hard line and a pro-Trump conference seeking impeachment. to President Joe Biden.
In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with CNN two days before the midterm elections, McCarthy laid out his plans for government, including a fight against inflation, rising crime and border security, three issues that have become central to Republican voters getting ready to vote. To hammer home the message, McCarthy, who took the country by storm before the midterms, rallied here Sunday with a trio of Hispanic GOP women who are vying to represent key districts along the southern border that is the nation’s heartland. the party’s strategy to win a majority.
“The first thing you’re going to see is the border control bill,” McCarthy told CNN when asked for details on his party’s immigration plans. “You have to control the border. Almost 2 million people have come across you this year alone.
The Biden administration continues to rely on the Trump-era pandemic emergency rule known as Title 42, which allows border authorities to divert migrants to the US-Mexico border. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, encounters at the U.S. border topped 2 million in fiscal year 2022 amid mass migration in the Western Hemisphere. Of them, more than 1 million was waived under Title 42.
But McCarthy also highlighted oversight and investigations as a top priority for the GOP-led House, listing potential probes into the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and the administration’s handling of parents and school board meetings. And he left the door open to possible impeachment proceedings, which some of his members have already begun to call for.
“We will never use an impeachment for political purposes,” McCarthy said. “That doesn’t mean that if something happens, it won’t be used at another time.”
And with the MAGA wing calling for an end to funding for Ukraine and GOP defense hawks vowing not to leave the country at war with Russia, McCarthy tried to reaffirm his support for Ukraine, saying they would not automatically make any additional requests. help
“I’m very supportive of Ukraine,” McCarthy said. “I think there must be responsibility in the future. … You don’t always need a blank check, but make sure resources go where they are needed. And make sure Congress and the Senate have an opportunity to have an open debate about it.
McCarthy declined to say how many seats he expected Republicans to pick up on Tuesday, but said he was confident it would be “at least enough to win a majority.” McCarthy said that in his eyes, “anywhere above 20 is a red wave.”
And McCarthy, who in 2015 had to drop out of the speakership race amid opposition from the far-right House Freedom Caucus, told CNN he believed he would have the support this time to secure the coveted speakership, both from his own conference and from former President Donald Trump.
“I believe we will have the votes for speaker, yes,” McCarthy said. “I think Trump will be very supportive.”
Regarding the influx of migrants to the border, McCarthy said “there are many different ways” his majority would address the problem, but said Republicans would not introduce a bill to fix the broken immigration system until the border is secure.
“I think “stay in Mexico” has to be immediate,” he said, referring to the controversial policy of forcing migrants to stay in Mexico while they await the immigration process in the United States.
To help stop the flow of fentanyl coming across the border, McCarthy said, “first do a very frontal attack on China to stop the poison coming in,” and then “give the border agents the resources they need” and “make sure that fentanyl is available to whoever wants to move it.” , you can prosecute him to death.
When McCarthy was asked to be specific about his crime-fighting plans, Republicans said they would fund the police, provide grants for recruitment and training and look at how crimes are prosecuted. To reduce inflation and gas prices, he said they would reduce government spending and make America more energy independent, though he did not name specific bills.
Most of the bills will be primarily messaging efforts, unlikely to clear a presidential veto or the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, though legislation to fund the government and raise the national borrowing limit will be needed next year. But McCarthy indicated that Republicans would demand spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, which would trigger a risky fiscal crackdown that could lead to a disastrous debt default.
“If you’re going to give a person a higher limit, wouldn’t you first say that you should change your behavior so you’re not lifting all the time?” He said. “You shouldn’t just say, ‘Oh, I’ll let you keep spending the money.’ No household should do this.”
McCarthy acknowledged that Republicans wanted to raise the debt ceiling under Trump, but said the calculus is different now that Democrats spent trillions of dollars under Biden.
When pressed about whether he was willing to risk a default using the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip, McCarthy insisted that would not happen: “People talk about risk. You have no risk of default.
In addition to trying to regain the majority, McCarthy also campaigned to win the speaker’s vote. And a key part of that strategy has been the elevation of Trump’s potential critics and controversial allies.
To that end, McCarthy has vowed to reinstate freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia to her seat on the committee, despite Democrats removing her last year for inflammatory remarks.
Meanwhile, McCarthy reiterated his plans to fire Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., from the House Intelligence Committee.
Asked if there were any restrictions on which committees Greene could serve on, McCarthy, who will have a direct say in the assignments, said no. Greene previously told CNN that he wants a seat on the House Oversight Committee, which the majority will play a key role in the GOP-led investigations.
“She will have to work on committees like every other member… Members are asking for different committees and when we go through the steering committee we will look at that,” he said. “She can make the committees she wants, just like any other member of our conference who gets elected.”
Greene is not the only member to spread conspiracy theories or inflammatory rhetoric. More recently, some Republicans have scoffed at the brutal attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, or spread sleazy conspiracy theories about the incident.
Asked for his message to those Republicans, McCarthy said, “What happened to Paul Pelosi is wrong, and I think we shouldn’t engage in that rhetoric.”
But when pressed on how to tone down that type of rhetoric, McCarthy pointed the finger at Democrats.
“The first thing I’m going to ask the president is not to call half the nation idiots and say things about them because they have different opinions,” he said. “I think leadership is important, and I think that probably starts with the president. And it will also start with the speaker.
Asked again how he would deal with members of his own party who spread dangerous conspiracy theories, McCarthy said: “I’ve watched people on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “If I’m going to be the speaker, I’m going to be the speaker of all the houses. So it’s not just the Republicans that will be looked at. We will also look at the Democrats.