Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) gave his first speech of the 115th Congress today outlining his vision for the institution of the House and how the House will make Washington serve the people.
Full remarks are below, or watch online here.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our Constitution lists specific qualifications for the offices we now hold. Article 1, Section 2 states that we must be at least 25 years old. We must have been a citizen for the past 7 years. And we must live in the state we represent. In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote that ‘under these reasonable limitations, the door of this part of the federal government is open to merit of every description, whether native or adoptive, whether young or old, and without regard to poverty or wealth, or to any particular profession of religious faith.’
“In a phrase, our body is to represent the American people in all its opinions, complexities, and richness. And I believe we do.
“For in a free nation such as ours, no single person can represent the people as a whole. In this body, I proudly work with colleagues on the left and the right, from every region and state, people who profess different faiths, have had different careers, and embody the experiences of the American people. No gathering in this nation is more like its people than in this House. And we are joined together in representing not only our constituents, but our country.
“Mr. Speaker, we now have a high and honorable task set before us. First, we must take our practical principles that we have built up by the hard experience of generations who came before us, and we must apply them to a changing future. Our mission is not to return to the past, nor to destroy it, but rather to build upon it. And then we must direct the desires of the people into action. Millions of Americans long ignored have rejected a future of limits and slow decline. We have heard their voices. But history will not judge us by how we hear, but by how we act.
“The unemployment rate has steadily declined and ticked down to 4.9%. But what is more important is that our labor participation rate is only 62.7%. Outside of the Obama years, that is the lowest labor participation rate since 1978. The reason our unemployment rate is dropping isn’t because people are finding jobs. They have no prospects for stability or meaningful work. The American people have unrivaled talent and ability, but it’s not being used.
“If we’re looking for a reason behind the message the American people sent us in November, this is a good place to start.
“And for so many who have worked, things aren’t much better. Millions of Americans, especially those in the heartland and struggling in the neighborhoods of our big cities, aren’t sharing in America’s prosperity. In fact, the bottom half of the economic distribution in America hasn’t felt any of the economic growth from the 1970s on. These people spend their whole lives working and never have the chance to move up.
“We have had the wisdom to listen to all of the American people, especially those being left behind. Now, let us have the courage to lead. Let us have the courage to define the people’s desires in laws.
“And as we go about our daily business, Mr. Speaker, we should remember not only that we have great purpose, but we also great power loaned to us directly from the American people. Our republic and the liberties we hold dear, at this time, are threatened by bureaucracies subject to no authority but their own will. They cannot be controlled by the people and are increasingly unrestrained by the people’s representatives. This is not a partisan concern. Congress has a duty to act as a united body in defense of our Article I powers because unlike the bureaucracy, we are accountable to the people.
“That is why I have scheduled this House to tackle this problem starting today on a two-step approach. First, as I have long said, structure dictates behavior. We need to fix the structure in Washington that deprives the people of their power. Second, we will repeal specific regulations that are harmful to the American people, costing us time, money, and, most importantly, jobs.
“To begin to get at the root of the problem, we will pass the REINS Act that will require Congress to approve every major regulation produced by the administrative state. And unlike the bureaucracy, if the people don’t like what they see, they can vote us out of office.
“Then next week, we will take a look at the Regulatory Accountability Act, which will require agencies to choose the least costly option available and will end judicial deference to agencies, which puts the American people at a disadvantage in the courtroom.
“But it’s not just how rules are made. It’s what rules are made to do. The president continues to unilaterally impose regulations on his way out of the door. So while we haven’t yet determined what needs to be repealed first, I expect to start with swift action on at least on the stream protection rule and methane emissions standards, both of which are limits to our energy production.
“This process won’t be completed quickly, but as we remove harmful regulations and change the structure of Washington, draining the bureaucratic swamp that undermines the will of the people, we can rebuild trust between the people and their government again.
“And not only that, within the renewed and responsive structure of a truly representative government, we can restore that hope held by so many generations before, that hope that has defined America’s character since before our nation was founded: It is the American Dream that we and our children can find more meaning, security, purpose, and success than those who have come before us.
“Restoring that dream is the purpose of this body in the 115th Congress. The American people expect this country to be great again. Here and now, we will move us towards that greatness.
“I yield back.”