McCarthy: Southern Border Top Priority for Expected GOP-led House

McCarthy: Southern Border Top Priority for Expected GOP-led House kevin mccarthy speaks at a press conference House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy answers questions during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 9, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 07 November 2022 09:19 AM EST

The top priority of a Republican-led House would be addressing the migrant crisis at the southern border, current Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told CNN.

McCarthy, in line to become speaker if the GOP wins control of the House in Tuesday's midterms, told CNN that the U.S.-Mexico border tops the list of to-dos that also include tackling rising crime and inflation, and probing actions of the Biden administration.

"The first thing you'll see is a bill to control the border first," McCarthy told CNN. "You've got to get control over the border. You've had almost 2 million people just this year alone coming across."

Saying "there's a number of different ways" Republicans could tackle the migrant crisis, McCarthy added that party lawmakers would not present a bill to fix the broken immigration system until the border is secure — something that would help stem the flow of fentanyl.

"I think 'Stay in Mexico' you have to have right off the bat," said McCarthy, referring to the Trump administration's policy that forced migrants to remain in Mexico while awaiting their immigration proceedings in the U.S.

The minority leader spoke to CNN while campaigning during the weekend in Texas, where three Hispanic GOP women are running to represent key districts along the southern border.

Although he declined to say how many seats Republicans will pick up Tuesday, McCarthy said he was confident it will "be at least enough to win the majority."

"Anywhere over 20 is a red wave," he told CNN.

McCarthy, who exited the speaker's race in 2015 amid opposition from House Freedom Caucus, told CNN he believes he has the support of both his conference and former President Donald Trump to become speaker.

"I'll believe we'll have the votes for speaker, yes," McCarthy said. "I think Trump will be very supportive."

McCarthy said Republicans also would perform oversight and conduct investigations into administration behavior concerning the disastrous troops pullout from Afghanistan, the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in dealing with parents and school board meetings.

While some GOP lawmakers have suggested potential impeachment proceedings against President Joe Biden, McCarthy insisted, "We will never use impeachment for political purposes."

However, he added, "That doesn't mean if something rises to the occasion, it would not be used at any other time."

McCarthy also will need to navigate his party through dealings with Ukraine. Some conservatives have called for cutting off funding to Ukraine, while other Republicans have vowed not to abandon President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's country in its war against Russia.

"I'm very supportive of Ukraine," McCarthy told CNN. "I think there has to be accountability going forward. … You always need, not a blank check, but make sure the resources are going to where it is needed. And make sure Congress, and the Senate, have the ability to debate it openly."

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