Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, criticized the White House for hosting a barbecue event on Sunday evening while Israel faced ongoing attacks from the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
McCarthy urged President Biden to prioritize leadership over leisure, saying, “To the president, turn off the barbecue and address the American people as the world’s leader.”
He also presented a “five-point plan” for the federal government’s support of Israel in its defense efforts. This plan includes prioritizing the identification and location of American hostages and freezing the $6 billion released to Iran in exchange for American prisoners.
McCarthy emphasized that the United States must make it unequivocally clear that any harm to Americans will result in severe consequences, avoiding a repeat of what occurred in Afghanistan. He emphasized that the U.S. should not negotiate with terrorists and should ensure the safety of all American citizens.
McCarthy held a press conference on Monday amid ongoing discussions about the House Speaker position and the escalating conflict in Israel.
In response to McCarthy’s criticism, the White House defended President Biden’s commitment to supporting Israel against terrorist attacks and highlighted his recent actions in this regard. They also emphasized that the barbecue event was scheduled when there were no other White House activities that required the staff’s presence and that it was meant to recognize and appreciate their hard work.
McCarthy additionally called for the U.S. to confront Iran and provide further support to Israel. He indirectly criticized progressive House members Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan for their controversial statements regarding Israel.
Regarding the House Speaker position, McCarthy criticized the House GOP members and Democrats who voted against him, saying they prioritized politics over the country’s best interests. He did not rule out the possibility of running for Speaker again, stating that he would do whatever the House decides.
McCarthy’s press conference took place as the House GOP grappled with choosing the next Speaker while the conflict in Israel continued. McCarthy was removed from the Speaker position last week following a challenge led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and seven other Republicans.
Despite this setback, McCarthy has not abandoned the idea of returning to the Speaker role, even as the House GOP considers other candidates such as House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio. Some Republicans have called for an expedited Speaker election amid the ongoing situation in Israel.