WASHINGTON -- Rep. Kevin McCarthy, in his first appearance on the Sunday news talk shows as House majority leader, said he thinks the often-fractious Republican caucus can do business with President Barack Obama, but Senate Democrats might be tougher.
"I believe you can work with anybody," Mr. McCarthy said on "Fox News Sunday." "The challenge has been Harry Reid."
Mr. McCarthy, the California Republican elected to the No. 2 House leadership position last week, blamed Mr. Reid, the Senate majority leader, for not taking up "more than 240 bills" that had been passed by the GOP-controlled House.
"If you want to know the problem and the frustration with Washington: the Senate," he said.
"They never send something to the president's desk, so how do you even negotiate with the president if he doesn't have the bill on his desk?"
If Republicans take over the Senate next year, he said, "I think it will be a new day for America and a new direction."
Mr. McCarthy pushed back against a suggestion that he was less conservative than Eric Cantor, his predecessor as majority leader.
"I believe in the idea of freedom and liberty. But more importantly, look at my voting background. I voted against bailing out Wall Street. I voted against, never voted for a tax increase."
Immigration reform will be one of Mr. McCarthy's most pressing challenges. As the representative of a California agricultural district where farmers rely heavily on migrant labor, he has spoken in favor of a path to legal status for some immigrants. On Sunday, he said there should be no talk of an immigration reform bill "until we secure the borders, because the borders are not secure."
Discussing other issues he will confront in his new leadership role, Mr. McCarthy also called for first establishing a broader approach to the growing power of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other terrorist groups as insurgents continue taking cities across Iraq.
"If you don't have an overall strategy, how do we push back this momentum of this terrorism that's growing throughout the entire region?" he asked. "To me, the key part was: lay out a strategy, then we could see the outcome of what we need to do to make it happen."
Mr. McCarthy did not exclude any U.S. option in Iraq, noting in particular that airstrikes might be "a very good, big, key part of it."
"I'd put everything on the table," he said. "But most people, when you talk to them, don't think boots on the ground would work right now, that you don't need it."
The New York Times contributed.