House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Sunday took House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her party to task for being more concerned with a far-left agenda rather than focusing on the needs of the American people.
McCarthy’s fiery speech came after Pelosi was re-elected as House speaker by Democrats, who retain the majority in the House with the slimmest margin in 20 years.
Stopping short of mentioning Democrats by name, McCarthy called out House lawmakers for neglecting their responsibilities over the last two years “during some of the most challenging times for our country.”
“When the need for more pandemic relief was obvious, did we deliver a timely lifeline America needed? Or did we say nothing was better than something until politics dictated our actions?” McCarthy said. “When unrest spilled into the cities and communities across the country, did we deliver safety that Americans wanted or did we let calls to defund the police, intimidate us from protecting life, liberty and property?”
To this, multiple House members could be heard booing, while others cheered the House minority leader on.
McCarthy then contrasted the Republican platform with the Democrat one, saying that his party has actually listened to its constituents and they have made a “commitment to America to restore our way of life, rebuild the economy and renew the American dream.”
That no Republican incumbent was defeated in the November election showed that voters have “endorsed common sense, not conflict,” McCarthy said.
“It was a referendum against a radical agenda to defund the police and punish hard work. It was a wakeup call,” McCarthy said, adding that he would “never, never, never vote” to defund the police.
Before officially congratulating Pelosi on her fourth term as House speaker, McCarthy vowed to fight for the people he represents: “farmers and oilfield workers who rise at the dawn to go to work, who pray to God and raise the next generation of good, decent citizens.”
“Can we keep that commitment to America? No more misplaced priorities. The American people deserve better. America is worth fighting for. American’s rights are worth fighting for. Their dreams are worth fighting for. Their voices are worth fighting for. And most importantly, their voices are worth being heard on this floor,” McCarthy said.
Pelosi, who has led her party in the House since 2003 and is the only woman to be speaker, received 216 votes to 209 for McCarthy. It was the first vote of the new Congress, which convened Sunday with COVID-19 guidelines requiring testing and face coverings for lawmakers.
With little margin for error, Pelosi suffered only a handful of Democratic defections in the latest display of her ability to line up support, and no opponent challenged her for the job.
Democrats gave Pelosi a standing ovation as the final tally was announced, while the Republican side of the chamber was nearly empty. The vote took over two-and-a-half hours, an unusually long time as lawmakers were divided into groups to reduce health risks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.