House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy has pledged 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 since McCarthy forced will be to grapple with an increasingly hard-line and pro-Trump conference keen to impeach President Joe Biden.
In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with CNN two days before the midterm elections, McCarthy outlined his plans for power, which include fighting inflation, rising crime and border security — three issues central to the Republicans’ final address to voters are. To underscore that message, McCarthy — who has been storming the country ahead of midterms — rallied here on Sunday for a trio of Hispanic GOP women vying to represent key counties along the southern border, a vital part of the Party’s strategy to win the majority.
“The first thing you’re going to see is a border control bill,” McCarthy told CNN when asked for details about his party’s immigration plans. “You have to get control of the border. Almost 2 million people approached you this year alone.”
The Biden administration continues to rely on a Trump-era pandemic emergency rule known as Title 42, which allows border officials to turn away migrants at the US-Mexico border. In fiscal year 2022, amid mass migration in the Western Hemisphere, U.S. border crossings surpassed 2 million, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. Of these, more than 1 million were turned away under Title 42.
However, McCarthy also highlighted oversight and investigations as a top priority for a GOP-run House, listing possible investigations into the messy pullout from Afghanistan, the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and the administration’s handling of parent and school board meetings. And he left the door open to an eventual impeachment process, which some of his members have already begun to call for.
Kevin McCarthy asked about impeachment of Biden if GOP House wins hear his answer
“We will never use impeachment for political purposes,” McCarthy said. “That doesn’t mean that something that comes up won’t be used at any other time.”
And as the MAGA wing called for a halt to funding for Ukraine, while GOP defensive hawks vowed not to abandon the country amid its war with Russia, McCarthy tried to reiterate his support for Ukraine while saying that they would not automatically approve additional applications Help.
“I am very supportive of Ukraine,” McCarthy said. “I think it needs to be accounted for in the future. … You always don’t need a blank check, but make sure that the resources get to where they are needed. And make sure Congress and Senate can discuss it openly.”
McCarthy declined to say how many seats he thinks Republicans will win Tuesday, but said he’s confident it will be “at least enough to win the majority.” McCarthy said that in his eyes, “over 20 is a red wave.”
And McCarthy, who was forced out of the speaker’s race in 2015 against opposition from the far-right House Freedom Caucus, told CNN he believes he will have the support this time to secure the coveted speaker’s gavel — both from his conference and by former President Donald Trump.
“I think we’re going to have the votes for the speaker, yes,” McCarthy said. “I think Trump will be very supportive.”
On the influx of migrants at the border, McCarthy said “there are a number of options,” his majority will address the issue, but said Republicans would not put a bill on the floor to fix the broken immigration system until the border is safe.
“I think ‘Stay in Mexico’ is a must-have,” he said, referring to the controversial policy of forcing migrants to stay in Mexico while they await their immigration procedures in the United States.
To help stem the flow of fentanyl across the border, McCarthy said, “You first conduct a very frontal attack on China to stop the poison from coming,” and then “you provide the resources that border officials need.” ‘ and ‘make sure that fentanyl anyone who wants to move it can charge him with the death penalty at any time.’
In pushing for his crime-fighting plans, McCarthy said Republicans would fund the police force, provide grants for recruiting and training, and look at how crimes are prosecuted. And to bring down inflation and gas prices, he said they would reduce government spending and make America more energy independent, though he didn’t give specific bills.
Most of the bills will be primarily messaging efforts that are unlikely to overcome the president’s veto or the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, though they would have to pass legislation to fund the government and raise the national borrowing limit sometime next year . However, McCarthy signaled that Republicans will demand spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, leading to a risky fiscal showdown that could result in a catastrophic debt default.
“If you give a person a higher limit, wouldn’t you first say that you should change your behavior so you’re not raising it over and over again?” he said. “You shouldn’t just say, ‘Oh, I’ll keep making you spend money.’ No household should do that.”
McCarthy acknowledged Republicans were willing to raise the debt ceiling under Trump but said the calculus is different now because Democrats have spent trillions of dollars under Biden.
When asked if he was willing to risk a default by using the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip, McCarthy insisted it wouldn’t happen: “People talk about risking it. You don’t risk a default.”
Aside from working to retake the majority, McCarthy has also struggled to win the Orator’s Gavel. And an important part of that strategy was to uplift potential critics and controversial Trump allies.
To that end, McCarthy has vowed to reinstate Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to her committee duties, despite being stripped of her duties by Democrats last year for her inflammatory comments.
Kevin McCarthy reveals if he’ll run for speaker if GOP wins majority
Meanwhile, McCarthy reiterated his plans to oust Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, from his seat on the House Intelligence Committee.
When asked if he has any restrictions on which committees Greene can serve, McCarthy — who will have a direct say in how those assignments are distributed — said “no.” Greene previously told CNN that she wants a seat on the House Oversight Committee, which the majority will play a key role in GOP-led investigations.
“She’s going to have committees to serve on, just like any other member … Members call for different committees, and when we go through the steering committee, we’re going to look at that,” he said. “She can push through the committees she wants, just like any other member of our conference who is elected.”
Greene isn’t the only member to have spread conspiracy theories or incendiary rhetoric. Recently, some Republicans have mocked the brutal attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, or peddled fringe conspiracy theories about the incident.
Asked about his message to those Republicans, McCarthy said, “What happened to Paul Pelosi is wrong and I don’t think we should get caught up in that rhetoric.”
But when pressured on how to quell that type of rhetoric, McCarthy pointed the finger at the Democrats.
“First, I ask the President not to call half the nation idiots or say things about them because they disagree,” he said. “I think leadership is important, and I think it probably starts with the president. And it also starts with the speaker.”
Asked again how he would deal with members of his own party spreading dangerous conspiracy theories, McCarthy replied, “I’ve been watching people on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “If I’m Speaker, I’ll be Speaker for the whole House. So it won’t just be looking at Republicans. We will also look at the Democrats.”