TALLADEGA -- Congressman Mike Rogers gave an update on the situation in Washington on Friday while visiting Elbit Systems in Talladega on the company’s 50th anniversary.
Currently, Rogers said, the defense budget is part of a continuing resolution, meaning it is level-funded with last year. The National Defense Authorization Act for the coming year is in conference committee, and Rogers (a member of the conference committee) is confident that it will pass, but it will not be easy.
“It’s not just that the Democrats control the House and the Republicans control the Senate, the parties themselves are fractured,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure on the Democratic leadership from a group of freshmen who actually call themselves socialists not to fund some things. They want to see funding for various social programs, but they don’t like funding for our southwestern border. They need to get their house in order.”
The shoe was on the other foot not too long ago, he continued.
“We had the Freedom Caucus on the far right who wanted everything perfect, while the rest of us wanted practical,” he said. “The only good thing about the current situation is watching it happen to them (the Democrats) now. There is no such thing as perfection.”
Of course, the elephant in the room in Washington right now is the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
“I’m most disappointed,” Rogers said. “I know (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi didn’t want to go there, and the Senate is never going to remove him from office, especially over a phone call where he did nothing illegal.
“But if they are going to do this, they need to do it the right way, like they did with Nixon and with Clinton. But the Democrats are refusing to have a floor vote. When we get back to Washington next week, we’re going to be raising some sand about that. We don’t need to put the country through an impeachment if the majority doesn’t support it.”
Still, the indications are the system still works the way it was intended to.
“I try to remind people, whether it was about this, or Medicare for all or tax reform, we’ve always had turbulent debates,” said the Republican from Saks. “That’s the way a democracy is supposed to work. You have a clash of ideas.
“That’s the way our country has been since its founding, going back to the adoption of the Constitution itself, the adoption of the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery, or the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, or over civil rights.
“Those fights were bigger and much more vicious than anything we’re seeing now. Things tended to settle in the middle, but the difference now is cable news and social media.
“You know the old saying about sausages and the law, once you see how they’re made, you’re not a fan anymore? People are seeing the legislative process as it is happening now, but they’re getting all that spin at the same time.
“Still, I believe our forefathers are smiling down on us from heaven, knowing the system they set up is still working the way it's supposed to.”
Still, he added, “things are ugly right now,” and the impeachment debate is tending to suck all the oxygen out of the capital.
“I represent a rural, poor, conservative district,” Rogers said. “My family’s been here for six generations. Neither of my parents finished high school. I know what my constituents expect of me.
“And I know that for me, like for the liberal Democrats, the race that matters is the primary. Primary voters in my district tend to be a lot more conservative than voters in the general election.”
The momentum for impeachment, he said, comes from the far left. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “represents a group of about 30 very liberal Democrats, and they are telling the mainstream Democrats they can be primaried if they don’t go along.
“Ocasio-Cortez beat Joe Crowley like a yard dog in the Democratic primary; he was mainstream, he was a Democrat, but he was mainstream. And that’s dangerous for the country. I’ve been doing this for 33 years and I believe in practical governing.”