Q&A with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy

The third-ranking House Republican, Kevin McCarthy, discussed the need for another short-term bill to fund the federal government, the political risks of the Republicans' push for spending cuts, and the Obama administration's handling of the upheaval in Libya at a March 8 Monitor breakfast.

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
GOP whip Kevin McCarthy at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, DC, March 8.

House majority whip Kevin McCarthy was elected in November to the third-highest Republican leadership position. As whip, he manages the party's legislative program on the House floor. Mr. McCarthy, a former business owner and congressional staffer, was elected to Congress in 2006. He was guest speaker at the March 8 Monitor breakfast in Washington, D.C.

The need for another short-term bill to fund federal government:

"We are going to hit the deadline because they [the Democratic-controlled Senate] haven't acted.... Republicans will be prepared in the House to do another two-, three-, or four-week [continuing resolution for funding], but each time we are going to go at it, taking more bites, making sure we have [spending] cuts out there to make the economy stronger."

Political risks of the Republicans' push for spending cuts:

"We have got four short years. Either we take the direction of the country in one way, or we save it and go in another direction. So some things we do, some people may lose over. But it is the right thing to do. Now I believe the country is further along than they were in the past [on grasping the need for cuts]."

Rating the Obama administration's handling of the upheaval in Libya:

"I gave him a 'C' [recently].... You are the world leader but you stay silent. What happens when you stay silent, people take that as your answer.... Whatever we do, I think we've got to take a strong position but, at the same time, don't go alone. We've got to build a coalition of other countries as well."

Responding to columnist George Will's charge that likely Republican presidential candi-dates for 2012 are 'careless, delusional, egomaniacal':

"I love George Will…. I think Republicans are in a good place.... What's happened in the Republican Party right now, you are having a deck-clearing. So [the nominee won't be] somebody who has been around for so long [that] it is ... their turn. A longer primary is going to be better for Republicans. A primary based upon ideas is going to better for Republicans."

The controversial hearings by Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, on the radicalization of American Muslims:

"I don't believe the faith is out to get us in any shape or form. No one believes that. But you do look, from his committee, from a standpoint [of] you want to make sure this country is safe."

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich's assertion that the 1995 government shutdown was not a disaster that hurt Republicans politically:

"I wasn't here then.... If you watch the polling, it didn't go off as well as Newt probably wrote about it…. Remember, this isn't 1995. Republicans don't have the Senate...."

Need for economic growth:

"You cannot get out of this [deficit] problem by just cutting. You have to grow the economy."

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