WASHINGTON — In his first news conference since becoming Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) vowed to protect Medicare and Social Security, expressed openness to releasing security camera footage from the Capitol insurrection and announced plans to investigate President Joe Biden’s classified documents.

“As Republicans, we will always protect Medicare and Social Security,” McCarthy said. “We will protect that for the next generation going forward.”

McCarthy spoke to reporters Thursday morning after the House’s final vote of a legislative week that included approving pro-life measures, investigations into federal agencies and the creation of a committee to assess challenges posed by China.

He spoke from Statuary Hall – a location not commonly used for news conferences by the Speaker  – noting that he chose the room because the TV cameras stood where Abraham Lincoln sat as an Illinois congressman.

Medicare and Social Security

Despite many Republicans’ push to decrease domestic spending to avoid raising the debt ceiling, McCarthy told reporters that he will protect Social Security and Medicare.

“We are going to scrutinize every single dollar spent,” he said “It’s the hardworking taxpayer that actually pays it and we want to make sure it’s spent wisely and not the way the Democrats expect.”

While McCarthy suggested spending caps as a possible way to reduce government expenditure, he did not guarantee that Republicans would vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Footage from Jan. 6

McCarthy said he’s open to releasing security footage from the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 but is willing to look at expunging former president Donald Trump’s impeachments. 

Security cameras in the Capitol captured thousands of hours of footage from Jan. 6. Law enforcement agencies have warned of security threats if the footage is released. 

“I think the American public should actually see all what happened instead of a report that’s written for a political basis,” McCarthy said

When asked about Republican calls to expunge Trump’s impeachment, McCarthy said he “[understands] why individuals want to do it.” 

Trump was impeached twice during his presidency: for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection and for seeking help from the Ukrainian president to boost his reelection campaign. The Senate acquitted Trump following both impeachments.

George Santos

McCarthy did not push for Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to resign, stressing that voters elected him to Congress. Santos is being scrutinized by prosecutors for his personal and campaign finance and is facing pressure from Republicans to resign for fabricating parts of his life story.

“He’s got a long way to go to earn trust,” McCarthy said. “The voters of his district have elected him. He is seated. He’s a part of the Republican conference.”

McCarthy said Santos will not have access to any classified information, and he may go before the House Committee on Ethics. He denied brokering any deals with Santos to keep him in the House.

Biden’s classified documents

McCarthy plans for Congress to investigate the classified documents found at Biden’s private office in Washington and his home in Wilmington, Del., he said. 

McCarthy said the discovery of Biden’s classified documents is being handled more leniently than how former President Donald Trump’s documents were. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced later Thursday afternoon that he appointed a special counsel to investigate the documents.

McCarthy suggested that the recently-approved Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government could possibly house the investigation.

“I think [Biden] has a lot of answers to the American public,” he said. “The good thing about that is the American public has a congress who can get the answers.”