McCarthy: Biden Meeting Shows Leaders Don't Question 2020 Election Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speak to reporters outside the White House after a meeting with President Joe Biden, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Wednesday, 12 May 2021 01:53 PM
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, pointing to the meeting he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell held with President Joe Biden Wednesday on infrastructure, rejected the idea that Republicans reject the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, despite the earlier vote to oust Rep. Liz Cheney from her House leadership role.
"I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. That's all over," the California Republican told reporters after he, McConnell, Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held their meeting to discuss bipartisan solutions on Biden's far-reaching infrastructure plan.
"We are sitting here with the president today, so from that point of view I don't think that's a problem," McCarthy, who led Wednesday's voice vote on the Cheney matter, told reporters, adding that the "conference will decide" who will be the next House Republican Conference chairperson.
Cheney has come under fire for pushing back at former President Donald Trump's stance that the 2020 election was flawed, and after she was one of a handful of House Republicans to vote for impeaching him on charges that he incited violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
McCarthy and McConnell, rather than discuss the Cheney controversy at length, described the meeting with Biden as a step toward working on infrastructure, and McConnell said he thinks it's "safe" to believe there is a path toward a bipartisan agreement.
But that doesn't mean Senate Republicans want to revisit Trump's 2017 tax bill and cuts, and Biden and Harris understand that, said McConnell.
"The first step is to define what infrastructure is, the definition of it," said McConnell. "We all agreed to work on that together. My preference is to include the committees. That's where the experts are, and the president has been meeting with the members of my conference and most of them are coming down tomorrow who know most about this."
McConnell added that he doesn't favor a "top-down dictation" about what a package agreement would be, but he wants "everybody in my conference" to be involved in the matter.
McCarthy, meanwhile, said he thinks the meeting at the White House was strong.
"We talked about infrastructure, and there's a place we can find bipartisanship and that's one thing I brought up with the president," said McCarthy. "We have to start with the definition of what is infrastructure. That's not healthcare, but roads, bridges, highways, airports, broadband, and those are places we are finding ground and can work together, and you can't wait a decade to build it."
The parties also talked about the rising inflation numbers and concerns about getting people to return to work as the pandemic eases.
"We need to get people back to work, back to school, back to health, and back to normal," said McCarthy.
He said he also raised concerns with Biden about the border situation and said he hopes that "we can and should work together to try to solve what is happening there."
"I'm really concerned in what I see in the future of economics of America," said McCarthy. "We have not seen inflation month over month like this since the 1950s and 1970s, and we have not seen gasoline lines and rationing since (Jimmy) Carter was president."
He added that Republicans won't back a raise in taxes, as "that's the worst thing you can do in the economy
McConnell added that raising taxes again is "our red line."
"We believe that in February of 2020 we had the best economy we've had in 50 years, and we believe that was a major reason for it, and so from my perspective, this discussion about the way forward on infrastructure will not include revisiting the 2017 tax bill," said McConnell.