With a third term easily within his reach, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe believes his future in Congress depends more on the November presidential and congressional elections.
On Thursday, the 1st Congressional District Republican campaigned for the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan GOP presidential ticket in Bristol, Va.
Next weekend, Roe plans to stump for Romney and Ryan in Ohio.
“I’ll go anywhere the campaign wants us to come,” Roe, R-Tenn., said at Ryan’s Thursday campaign event at Universal Fibers.
Roe, whose re-election appears all but assured against four general election opponents, is already sizing up 2013.
He readily admits his plans will depend upon whether Romney unseats Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama and whether Republicans can take control of Congress.
Roe chairs a House Education and Workforce Subcommittee and also serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
“I would like to stay on Veterans Affairs, and if an opportunity came up to serve on a different committee, I would look at it,” Roe said. “A lot of that will determine on whether I can get anything done. If we stay where we are (Republicans currently hold a House majority), I will probably stay where I’m at ... (but) I might look at a different committee.”
Comments like that draw the ire of Roe’s Democratic opponent — Gray attorney Alan Woodruff.
“Phil Roe (and most congressmen) can only see as far as the next election,” Woodruff said in an e-mail.
Still, Roe holds a huge fund-raising advantage over all his election opponents. As of mid-October, his campaign account had nearly $500,000 cash on hand while taking in individual contributions and no political action committee dollars.
When asked how he has moved the 1st Congressional District forward, Roe said his physician background has given him a “unique view” to criticize federal health care reform.
“Certainly we need health care reform, and if Republicans carry the House and Senate and the presidency, I will be right in the middle of health care reform,” Roe insisted.
Roe, an Army veteran, also cited his work on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
“The VA is a passion of mine,” said Roe. “If I had any place I feel like I belong, it’s the Veterans Affairs Committee. ... We have more veterans in the 1st Congressional District than any district in the state.”
Most recently, Roe sponsored an initiative that would direct the secretary of Veterans Affairs to disallow VA employees who violate the law to receive any retention incentive or awards.
Roe has also spoken out against military implications for the so-called federal “fiscal cliff,” has attempted to repeal a board designated to rein in Medicare spending, and opposed cuts in Medicare physician payments.
“The House has passed a bill to avoid sequestration (automatic spending cuts in last year’s Budget Control Act), but there’s been no action in the Senate,” Roe said. “Congress has passed a continuing budget resolution through the end of next March, but what has happened is really shameful.”
In addition to Woodruff, Roe faces Green Party candidate Robert Smith and independent candidates Sherry Brackett and Michael Salyer in the November general election.
For more about the Roe campaign go to www.roe4congress.com.