U.S. Rep. Phil Roe.
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said Friday GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney pledged to repeal federal health care reform despite having signed a similar measure into law as Massachusetts governor.
Last week, Roe endorsed Romney and mentioned the repeal pledge in a news release on Romney’s campaign Web site.
But Romney has been a political target for signing into law a state measure more than five years ago mandating Massachusetts residents to obtain a state-government-regulated minimum level of health care insurance coverage.
Roe, in a conference call with reporters, said he spoke with Romney about the health care reform law also known as the Affordable Care Act.
“He said if he is president he will give a waiver immediately to any state that wants it,” Roe, R-Tenn., said of the conversation with Romney. “He told me he would sign to repeal it. He told me that out of his own mouth.”
Roe voted to repeal the health care reform law — a measure that passed in the GOP-controlled House but not in the Democrat-led Senate. He has also sponsored legislation to repeal a provision in the law.
That provision would create an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to rein in Medicare spending.
Roe has more than 200 House co-sponsors to repeal the IPAB, and he pledged to seek Senate support next year.
“I want to get a vote,” Roe said of his bill.
But Roe also noted there are “28 jobs bills” on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s desk with no chance of moving forward. “They’ve never come to a vote or anything,” Roe said of the jobs bills.
During the conference call, Roe also spoke of what House Republicans accomplished this year and this week.
House Republicans, he noted, passed a Balanced Budget Amendment that failed in the Senate.
Roe hailed his GOP caucus for also passing a Budget Control Act creating the so-called “Supercommittee” of Republican and Democratic lawmakers who were charged with recommending more than $1 trillion in federal spending cuts.
But neither side came to an agreement, and Roe indicated it was President Barack Obama’s fault.
“I haven’t spent the last three years bashing the president. ... I have talked about issues and what I want to do,” Roe explained. “I’ve been involved in veterans, education and health care. That is what I’ve focused on. ... But we missed leadership and a huge opportunity with the Budget Control Act and Supercommittee, to cut $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion out of the debt.
“Where was the president when all this was going on? He was in Southeast Asia. I can’t imagine an opportunity like that coming up again. ... They could have done something big, and the president was AWOL. He should have been here working with that committee and hammering out a compromise.”
On Friday afternoon, Roe voted for and the House passed a $1 trillion spending bill to keep the government running through next September, although the measure awaited Senate action before a midnight shutdown deadline.
“If they substantially change that, I think you’re going to see it blow up,” Roe said of the bill’s fate with the Senate.
Roe also accused Democrats of trying to hold up extensions of unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut with opposition to the Keystone pipeline project.
Congress, Roe said, needs to stop voting on continuing budget resolutions and “get back to regular order” where appropriations bills go through committees and then are voted on the floor of the House and Senate.
“The Senate hasn’t voted on a budget in well over 900 days now. ... I don’t know that it’s ever happened in the history of our country,” Roe said.
Roe also defended his “no” vote against the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act authorizing next year’s military appropriations.
“There was a little verbiage that gave me a little pause, that is detaining a U.S. citizen on American soil,” Roe said of his reason for opposing the bill. “We don’t need to give up the rule of law that our forefathers fought and died for and that our young people are fighting and dying for now.”
Finally, Roe praised the U.S. military for wrapping up operations in Iraq.
“They did win that war, and they give the people of Iraq an unheard of opportunity,” Roe said. “Our people did a great job. I’m glad they are coming home.”