Roe votes for House spending package

Published 5:11 pm Thursday, March 22, 2018

Veterans issues and the omnibus spending package are two of the primary focuses of Congress right now according to one local representative.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D., (R-Tenn.) spoke to reporters about the omnibus spending bill the House of Representatives passed that day as well as some legislation in the works to benefit the nation’s veterans.

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The $1.3 trillion omnibus included discretionary funding through 12 annual appropriations bills and includes increased funding for the military as well as allocations to help in the battle against opioid abuse.

Roe voted in favor of the bill, noting it includes many important things that will benefit the country as well as his constituents.

One of the most important elements of the appropriations package is the increase in funding for the military, which is the largest investment in the nation’s armed forces in 15 years. The funds will go to rebuilding the military, fighting the War on Terror, and providing a pay raise for troops.

“We have to give our troops the resources they need in a dangerous world,” Roe said. “I’ve said it time and again that I will never apologize for taking care of our military, and that’s one of the main reasons I support this agreement. After eight years of underfunding, Secretary Mattis has made clear what the stakes are. When you have more members of our military dying in training accidents than combat, there’s no question we have failed the men and women who so bravely serve our great nation,” Roe continued. “Not only are we providing the resources we need to keep America safe, we are also providing our troops their largest pay raise in 8 years.”

Roe said the spending package approved by the House also includes priorities which will benefit East Tennessee and its residents.

“At a time when opioid addiction and substance abuse have affected so many, this agreement provides a huge number of resources to address the opioid epidemic,” Roe said.

Taking care of the nation’s veterans is also a key part of this funding package.

“As Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I’m also grateful this agreement provides more funding than ever for veterans’ benefits and services,” Roe said. “While I was disappointed additional VA reforms I negotiated were not included, these resources will help ensure veterans receive the benefits they have earned.”

The House has been working on several initiatives lately to improve the Community Care program that allows veterans to receive medical care through providers outside of the VA system, a bill to expand the providing of caregivers to qualified veterans, and a review of VA programs and facilities. However, Roe said, those measures have encountered roadblocks from House Democrats.

Roe noted in one legislative package his committee presented every member, including the Democrats, signed on as sponsors of the bill, but did not vote for it when it reached the House floor.

“Democrat Leader (Nancy) Pelosi insisted that they vote against their own bill,” Roe said. “I think it was taking it down so the President couldn’t get any wins. But, you know who actually didn’t get a win? The veterans we are supposed to serve.”

“Veterans Affairs issues should be non-partisan,” Roe added.