Editorial: Roe visits Sevierville

Aug. 27, 2013 @ 11:18 PM

Congressman Phil Roe stopped by The Mountain Press offices last week during a tour of the district to talk Washington, policy and the concerns of his constituency. 

While visiting a home district, holding town hall meetings and fielding questions from a newspaper staff are par for the course for an elected official, it’s still refreshing to see a public servant making the rounds and — at least to some degree — being held accountable by the public he serves.

Roe said the biggest concerns of the voters in the district were simple: “Obamacare” and immigration.

“Eighty percent of the questions we get are on health care,” the congressman said. 

Roe cited a Chicago Tribune editorial that called for delaying and rewriting the Affordable Care Act, of which major components are about to go into effect.

“People are hearing about it,” Roe said. “It’s going to start soon, and it affects every single one of us.”

Roe said he and his fellow Republicans in Washington have tried to block the bill, or parts of it, at every pass because they think it’s wrong for the country.

“We think it’s just a bad bill,” he said. “It has never polled positive.” 

About immigration, Roe held that border security is job one.

“You have to step back and say, why do we need an immigration bill?” he asked. “We had an immigration bill in 1986, which we never followed.

“You have to have verifiable border security. Without that, the rest of it doesn’t really amount to anything.”

As for the perceived gridlock in Washington, Roe pushed blame toward the Senate.

“I would argue that the Senate is the problem,” he said. “They told me when I went to Congress that ... the Senate is the enemy. I believe that now. We pass a lot of bills to the U.S. Senate that never go anywhere.”

Whether it’s a political strategy of obstructionism or a simply a case of true gridlock, the lack of action in Washington in either direction is frustrating to the general public and results in the apathy of the average citizen.

Perhaps next fall, one way or the other, things will change.