Roe says transparency needed in impeachment

Robert Houk • Oct 19, 2019 at 12:00 AM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, said Friday impeachment has “already sucked all the air out of the room” for bipartisan work on other key issues before Congress.

Roe told reporters on a conference call he believes important legislation like his own dealing with surprise medical bills may get ignored as House Democratic leaders push impeachment against President Donald Trump.

The Johnson City lawmaker said his bill, which would ban the practice of billing patients for unanticipated out-of-network care and implement a “baseball-style” arbitration process for disputed claims, has more than 100 sponsors on both sides of the aisle.

“It (impeachment) is keeping us from doing the work we should be doing,” Roe said.

The congressman also said he is unhappy with the “closed door” tactics Democrats are employing in the impeachment process. Roe and his GOP colleagues have also objected to how U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is conducting his hearings.

He told reporters the process is totally lacking in transparency.

“It is not an impeachment inquiry — we haven’t voted on that,” Roe said. “It’s been closed Intelligence Committee meetings where only one side has been given subpoena power. It’s ridiculous.”

He said the House has more than “900 pages of rules and procedures,” as well precedents set by the Watergate hearings on President Richard Nixon and the President Bill Clinton impeachment to follow in the process.

“There is a road map out there, but we are not following it,” he said.

Roe and many of his Republican colleagues joined Democrats earlier this week in voting 354-60 to approve a resolution condemning Trump’s decision to remove U.S. troops from Northeast Syria. That move resulted in the Turks targeting the Kurds, allies of the United States in battling ISIS. 

Turkey announced Thursday it would enact a a five-day “pause” in fighting in Syria following talks with Vice President Mike Pence.

Roe saids that while he supports the president making good on his campaign promises to extract U.S. military forces from conflicts in Syria and elsewhere, he said withdrawing troops from the region harms the Kurds, who the Turks have called terrorists, and has led to other unintended consequences.

“We could be creating a void in Syria that will be filled by some very bad people,” Roe said.

He said Trump has had “to clean up the mess” that President Barack Obama’s administration left him In Syria. Even so, he said withdrawing U.S. troops has resulted in Turkey and Russia filling a vacuum in the region and undermining America’s interests.