Roe says Democrats are ignoring border crisis

Robert Houk • Jun 13, 2019 at 8:48 PM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, said Thursday it is “unconscionable” for House Democratic leaders to “hold up humanitarian aid” at the southern border.

Roe joins a number of Republicans who have criticized the majority party in the House for what they call inaction on President Donald Trump’s request for more money to manage an immigrant crisis at the U.S./Mexican border.

“The speaker (Nancy Pelosi) has been told the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will run out of funds,” he said.

The Johnson City lawmaker, who is a retired physician, said he would soon be going with other members of the House’s doctors caucus to view “the humanitarian crisis” at the border. Roe told reporters on a conference call there are more than 52,000 immigrants — including parents with children from Central and South America — being held in beds on the border.

“They’ve caught child impostors and child smugglers,” he said. “We need to get our borders under control.”

Roe said changes were needed to the so-called Flores agreement, a 1997 court settlement that limits the length of time and conditions which U.S. officials can hold immigrant children.The Trump administration has sought the ability to detain children with their parents in Immigration and Customs Enforcement residential facilities, as opposed to the conditions required by the Flores settlement.

‘Unprecedented’ Move

Earlier in the week, the House voted along party lines to empower its Judiciary Committee to go to the courts to enforce subpoenas related to the Trump administration and Robert Muller’s special investigation.

Roe said the move is “unprecedented” because it allows a five-member bipartisan leadership group (made up of three Democrats and two Republicans) the authority to pursue other possible subpoenas and contempt citations against U.S. Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

He said vote allows the House leadership to completely “bypass Congress,” and is being pushed by Democrats who are setting the stage for the possible impeachment of the president.

“It’s political,” he said.

Blue Water Navy

Roe told reporters he was proud to be a part of passage of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. The measure, which has been approved by both the House and Senate, is now on its way to President Trump to be signed into law.

The legislation extends disability benefits to veterans who served on Navy ships off the coast of Vietnam. It allows former sailors and Marines to receive compensation for diseases caused by exposure to Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War.

The issue has been debated in Congress for more than a decade.

“Finally, we have the wrong righted,” Roe said.

Straits of Hormuz

The congressman said diplomatic tensions between the United States and Iran have increased as a result of suspected attacks on two oil tankers early Thursday near the Straits of Hormuz. Roe said he is hopeful the incident does not lead to military action in the strategic area.

“This is an incredibly complicated piece of real estate,” he said. “You’ve got Saudia Arabia and Iran staring down each other.”

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