McCarthy says he’d ‘do it all again’ in goodbye speech to Congress

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the California congressman who served as speaker of the House for most of this year until a group of his own colleagues moved to oust him, said he had no regrets about his time as the lower chamber’s leader as he delivered his final floor speech before leaving Congress.

Mr McCarthy, whose resignation as the representative of California’s 20th Congressional District will take effect at year’s end, spoke following a series of tributes from members of the conference he led as party leader from 2014 until he became Speaker after a record 15 ballots in January.

He opened his remarks by thanking his constituents for allowing him the opportunity to serve, noting that he “loved every single day” he spent as a House member. He also thanked his Democratic counterparts for the “work [they] have done,” and offered some advice for his soon-to-be former colleagues.

“Do not be fearful if you believe your philosophy brings people more freedom. Do not be fearful that you could lose your job over it,” he said, recalling how he knew some of his own party would push to remove him as speaker after he allowed the House to vote on funding the government this past fall.

“I knew the day we decided to make sure to choose to pay our troops while war was breaking out, instead of shutting down, was the right decision. I also knew a few would make a motion. Somehow they disagreed with that decision ... I would do it all again,” he said.

The former GOP leader, once second in line to the presidency, said he is most proud of the work that is yet to be done by the Republican members he helped bring to Congress in his role as a party leader, recruiter and fundraiser.

“The legacy will be about the ones I see who serve here now. And I know the potential of what they will do,” he said.

Mr McCarthy added that he was “so thankful to be given the opportunity to serve,” and cautioned that while he may be leaving the House, his departure does not mean that he would “stop serving”.

He closed by reminding his soon-to-be former colleagues that they “cannot let this body fail to do the jobs that are so basic that we should do [them] every day”.

“We should never allow this body to stop doing what is right,” he said.

“So if you come across that question of whether you should do what’s right out of fear of losing your job, do it anyways — because it’s the right thing to do”.