Kevin McCarthy said Sunday that his record-breaking eight-and-a-half hour speech on Thursday night was also supposed to be 45 minutes – but he extended it after Democrats tried to shut him down.
‘When I went to the floor, I had no idea we would speak that long. It wasn’t about breaking the record, it was about breaking down this bill,’ McCarthy told Fox News‘ Sunday Morning Futures host Maria Bartiromo.
He said the limit of a 20-minute debate and Democrat heckling inspired him to go for much longer than he originally intended.
‘More than 2,000 pages and the Democrats were only allowing – once they put that manager’s amendment in – 10 minutes on each side to debate,’ the House minority leader continued. ‘And the amount of heckling that they would try to do to stop me from being able to talk.’
‘But what we really found,’ McCarthy said, ‘with one-party rule in one year – this big government socialism isn’t working.’
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he only planned to speak for about 45 minutes at most on Thursday but went for eight-and-a-half hours after Democrats heckled him
The Southern California Republican said he wanted to take his time to list failures of Joe Biden and Democrats’ agenda and also explain in full what was in the $1.75 trillion social spending package.
His goal, he said, was not to set the record on the longest House floor speech.
‘That’s what drove me to keep talking – so the American people could understand what’s in [the bill.]’
Despite Democrats’ complaints, just three years earlier in February 2018, then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi set the record for the longest ever House floor speech by going on for eight hours and six minutes.
Her party cheered when she announced the new record, which came as she opposed a two-year budget deal struck by Senate leaders. She said she wouldn’t stop speaking until the GOP, which controlled Congress at that point, considered immigration legislation.
McCarthy broke Pelosi’s record on Thursday night into Friday morning as he spoke for eight-and-a-half hours in opposition to Biden’s social spending and welfare agenda – known as Build Back Better.
Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left) and Tim Ryan (right) where among the loudest Democratic hecklers, which McCarthy said inspired him to keep talking
The minority leader was heckled throughout the first few hours of speech. He said the biggest voices were Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Tim Ryan of Ohio.
‘I was going down to make a statement, to talk through this bill. I had a speech that I’d been working on for a while – it’d probably have taken me about 45 minutes to give that speech, at the longest,’ McCarthy explained. ‘But when I got onto the floor, what was so interesting of how bad they were fighting back with every word I would say.’
‘It was AOC and Tim Ryan – those were the ones who would yell the loudest,’ he added. ‘They would scream from the other side trying to shut me down.’
The Republican leader said at one point House Speaker Pelosi tapped every Democrat on the shoulder and told them to leave the chamber in an effort to get McCarthy to stop filibustering.
‘You can leave, it’s OK. I’m not going to stop – because I’m not there for the Democrats, I was there for the American public and I’m still there for the American public,’ McCarthy said.
In the midst of McCarthy’s marathon speech, Ocasio-Cortez posted a video to Instagram calling him an ‘imbecile’ and called him ‘evil’, but ‘no evil genius’.
‘He has managed to speak for over an hour with one of the lowest vocabularies I have ever heard coming from a member of House leadership of any party,’ AOC said in her straight-to-camera video.
‘It is stunning to me how long a person can talk,’ she added, ‘communicating so little.’
McCarthy said he is optimistic that the bill can still be defeated despite passing the House on Friday after he concluded his monologue.
The Senate, which is split 50-50, is likely to face an uphill battle getting the bill through. Centrist West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is opposed to several provisions in the bill and could kill its chances.
If any changes at all are made in the Senate passing it, the bill will need to go back to the House for reconciliation.