Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Cost of Impeachment

Phil Roe
by Congressman Phil Roe - It’s been nearly three months since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats initiated their sham impeachment inquiry. The key fact remains that President Trump and President Zelensky agree there was no pressure to initiate investigations. The transcripts of their calls show no pressure and President Zelensky did not know that aid was under review when the call occurred. The aid was released without an investigation, and from what I can tell, many of these “witnesses” who testified simply disagree with the president’s foreign policy. Everyone is entitled to agree or disagree with the president but impeaching a duly-elected president over policy disagreements would be a profound mistake for our country. There is still no evidence President Trump committed a crime. The needle has not moved.

Nevertheless, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are continuing their partisan process, calling three constitutional attorneys who agree with their prejudgment that the president should be impeached. It’s worth noting that the one witness called by Republicans – the only witness that Democrats allowed from our list - is someone who voted against President Trump and opposes his policies. In his testimony, however, he notes, “[o]ne can oppose President Trump’s policies or actions but still conclude that the current legal case for impeachment is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous, as the basis for the impeachment of an American president.” This process is still a political, calculated sham, and yet they continue to waste our time and taxpayer money.

With House Democrats solely focused on impeachment, we are wasting valuable time that could be used to pass meaningful legislation to help the American people. There are seven legislative days left in 2019, and we have not funded the government past December 21; we have yet to vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA); and have yet to act on legislation dealing with surprise medical bills for patients. President Trump is working tirelessly to put America first, and last year he signed a renegotiated trade arrangement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The USMCA will benefit American manufacturers and farmers; better protect intellectual property; and help our automobile and auto parts industry, which is a critical employment backbone of our region. There are over one million American jobs that rely on this trade deal, and the longer we wait the more it hurts American workers. In 2018, there were $12.7 billion in Tennessee exports to Canada and Mexico and this continued delay hurts our state’s revenue, businesses and families’ income. Speaker Pelosi has refused to provide a timeline to pass this agreement, despite a clear bipartisan majority that supports it. It has become clear the Speaker is unable to pass this agreement while simultaneously focusing all of her party’s attention on impeaching the president.

Another pressing issue with bipartisan support that has yet to see Congressional consideration is solving the issue of surprise medical billing. Surprise medical billing can occur when patients receive emergency care or receive care from an out-of-network provider during treatment they believe is in-network, only to later receive a large medical bill. These bills can cause stress, anxiety, depression and financial ruin. That is why I introduced the bipartisan Protecting Patients from Surprise Billing Act with Rep. Raul Ruiz M.D. (D-CA) to resolve this issue. Unfortunately, though it has strong bipartisan support, our bill has yet to receive House consideration. It seems our efforts are going nowhere in favor of this sham inquiry. The longer we wait the more families could be at risk of financial ruin because of an emergency room visit.

Furthermore, our nation is facing another medical crisis: prescription drug prices are too high. No one should have to worry about being able to afford necessary treatment. What we need is a bipartisan bill that will lower costs, encourage innovation and make prescription drug pricing more transparent. There is bipartisan legislation that could easily be passed and signed into law that is key to lowering costs; however, once again it will not be accomplished if the Democrats do not make such legislation a priority over impeachment. The political agenda of House Democrats is dragging our country into gridlock, causing delays in solutions that will help the American people. As your member in Congress, I will continue to fight against this sham process and push for policies that improve the lives of East Tennesseans.

Phil Roe is the U.S. Representative for Tennessee's 1st congressional district, serving since 2009.

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