BOWLING GREEN — One month after being elected majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California was asked about progress Washington might be making on dealing with the flood of migrant children at the nation's southern border.
Flanked by U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green, McCarthy, in replying that the House is nearing legislation on an emergency supplemental funding bill, immediately smiled and mentioned U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, also a Kentucky Republican.
"The power of Kentucky," McCarthy said.
Just more than 100 days out from the midterm elections, McCarthy, at Guthrie's request, joined Republicans at The Club at Olde Stone on a rainy Saturday to raise money for Republicans as they try to retake the Kentucky House for the first time in almost a century.
In a wide-ranging roundtable with a handful of reporters, McCarthy, who was elected majority leader after U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor lost his primary in a shocking upset, talked about immigration reform, his desire for a Republican Senate and the future of Guthrie, his friend and colleague.
Considering Cantor's recent fall from grace, McCarthy was asked if U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell should be concerned this fall as he is locked in a tight race against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. McCarthy said that having already survived a primary challenge, "he shouldn't be worried."
Following McConnell's endless criticisms, McCarthy repeatedly blasted U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, castigating the Nevada Democrat, a Grimes ally, for not allowing votes in the Senate on bills that have passed the House, stating that "294 bills have passed that he won't bring up."
"The real problem is in the Senate," McCarthy said. "If there's any change you have to make, it's in the Senate."
McCarthy said that with a Republican Senate, which McConnell hopes to lead, Congress could move bills to the president's desk to address securing the borders, tax reform, national energy policy and reforming government agencies.
"I think given the opportunity, we'll get things done," he said.
On the immigration crisis, McCarthy said Rogers has been going through President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion request for an emergency supplemental to deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors at the border. Having already said the sum is too high, Rogers will likely unveil an alternative proposal this week, McCarthy said.
"Their governments want them to come back," he said. "They want them to be reunited with their families."
McCarthy also spent time heaping praise on Guthrie, who gave the majority leader a check for $67,500 for the National Republican Congressional Committee on Saturday.
At a time when leaders are struggling to get members to pay their dues to the campaign committees, Guthrie's giving is drawing attention as he continues to use his fundraising to build relationships and grow his influence.
Thus far, Guthrie, who describes McCarthy as a friend and "the kind of guy I go to a movie with on occasion," has contributed or raised more than $400,000 for the NRCC this cycle.
"His future is very bright," McCarthy said, adding that Guthrie has a great deal of influence.
But Guthrie, who will join Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner at the White House this week for the signing of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act — a bill he first proposed in 2009 — said that while he wants to grow his clout in order to help Kentucky, he's not giving his money away to sow the seeds for a different office.
"I'm not doing this for a set agenda other than helping like-minded people," Guthrie said.
McCarthy said Guthrie is someone who is getting things done in Washington, joking that with Guthrie's career trajectory, "I just hope he remembers my name."
"He has the skill set to go anywhere, but he has the demeanor that brings people with him," McCarthy said.