New House majority leader Rep. McCarthy: Blame Harry Reid for DC mess

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, in his first appearance on the Sunday news talk shows as House majority leader, said he thinks the often fractious Republican caucus can do business with President Obama – but Senate Democrats might be tougher.

“I believe you can work with anybody,” said McCarthy, in response to a question from Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “The challenge has been Harry Reid.”

McCarthy, the Bakersfield Republican elected to the No. 2 leadership position last week, blamed Reid for not taking up “more than 240 bills” that had been passed by the GOP-controlled House. “If you want to know the problem and the frustration with Washington – the Senate,” he said. “They never send something to the president’s desk, so how do you even negotiate with the president if he doesn’t have the bill on his desk?”

If Republicans manage to take over the Senate this fall, he said, “I think it will be a new day for America and a new direction.”

McCarthy pushed back against a suggestion that he was less conservative than Eric Cantor, his predecessor in the leadership job. “I believe in the idea of freedom and liberty. But more importantly, look at my voting background. I voted against bailing out Wall Street. I voted against, never voted for a tax increase.”


Immigration reform will be one of McCarthy’s most pressing challenges: as the representative of an agricultural district where farmers rely heavily on migrant labor, he has spoken in favor of a path to legal status for some immigrants. On Sunday, he said there should be no talk of a reform bill “until we secure the borders, because the borders are not secure.”

And McCarthy also was asked about Frank Underwood, the fictional, evil (and Democratic) House whip on the television show “House of Cards.” Actor Kevin Spacey shadowed McCarthy while preparing for the role. Unlike Underwood, McCarthy said he’s never killed a political opponent.

“But I jokingly say that if I ever did, it’d be easier to whip” votes, he said. “And then seven members texted me to ask me if they’d be the ones I would kill.”

Twitter: @jtanfani