Roby Column - March 29, 2011
The President’s Actions on Libya
Many of my constituents have expressed apprehension regarding the United States’ participation in military operations in Libya. I share their concern.
It is clear that our military has once again performed with professionalism and precision, and has achieved the initial military objective of establishing a no-fly zone in a manner in which no other fighting force is capable. Even so, I am gravely concerned that President Obama put our troops in harm’s way based on a resolution passed by the United Nations, not the United States Congress.
I worry that, as a result, our mission in Libya lacks clarity. The President may have the right to commit U.S. forces to short-term engagements, but he also has the responsibility to inform the people—or their elected representatives—of the reasons justifying such action. President Obama failed to do that. Adding to the confusion, his statements conflict those of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Even in his speech on the evening of Monday, March 28, the President did not adequately outline an endgame to this conflict.
Serious questions remain unanswered: How long will the U.S. be involved? What is the cost to American taxpayers? Will attacks on ground forces continue? Is the goal to remove Moammar Gaddafi or to prevent attacks on civilians? What happens if the conflict becomes a stalemate? Will American forces help maintain a fly zone for months—or even years? What impact will this have on our work in Afghanistan or Iraq?
My colleagues and I will be pressing the administration for answers to these and other questions in the coming week. It is important that the American People have a full understanding of both the endeavor that we have undertaken and the definition of victory for this mission. In the interim, our courageous men and women in uniform are serving on the orders of their Commander-in-Chief, and we must do everything we can to support their courageous effort.
The Spending Battle and the Upcoming 2012 Budget
This week, I traveled the Second Congressional District during the March District Work Period, which was another productive opportunity to listen to constituents and share ideas. At every stop, I spoke of the most important concerns on the hearts and minds of many Americans: our nation’s budget crisis and spending problem.
My colleagues and I face tough decisions in the days ahead. I ran for Congress to ensure that this country looks the same for my two-year-old son and my five-year-old daughter as it did for past generations. I firmly believe that it is my responsibility to gather the facts, consider all sides to the argument, listen to my constituents, and apply conservative principles and my best judgment to make decisions in the long-term interest of the nation.
The truth is, America is broke and the situation is getting worse. I truly believe that we can fix this problem, but it will require a deep commitment by both sides of the aisle and a willingness to sacrifice by all.
Over the last few years, the federal government has been on a spending spree of epic proportions, adding $4.5 trillion to the national debt. We need to cut federal spending to reduce the threat of new taxes and regulations that together are keeping small businesses from growing. Doing so will unleash a new era of market-driven growth and prosperity for all Americans.
This is no easy task. Republicans control the House of Representatives—but neither the Senate nor the White House. I am proud that we have used our majority in the House to pass a full repeal of ObamaCare and a Continuing Resolution that contained $61 billion in discretionary spending cuts—the largest cuts in modern history. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats and the President blocked both efforts, making clear that they are not interested in true reform.
At public events in Lowndes, Autauga, and Elmore counties, many constituents this week asked questions about the short term Continuing Resolution that is currently in place. After Senate Democrats blocked our yearlong bill because it contained “too many cuts,” House Republicans offered two short-term bills to keep the government open but also chip away at our deficit. So far, this strategy has saved taxpayers $10 billion and the government has remained open—which is extremely important given our fragile economy and growing unrest in the Middle East. The current Continuing Resolution is set to expire April 8, 2011.
But short term measures are not a good way to operate a government, and I am not satisfied with the status quo. The current Continuing Resolution expiring on April 8 could be a tipping point in the debate. It is time for Washington Democrats to get serious about the problem, hear the voice of the American People, and come to the table with real spending reductions.
President Obama’s FY2012 budget, which remarkably calls for sustained deficits over the next ten years, is unsustainable and will do serious harm to our economy. Republicans will release our alternative budget soon, and it will offer a stark contrast in terms of spending cuts and deficit reduction. I encourage everyone to pay close attention.
The next three weeks in Congress will be marked by a serious debate about the budget, our national debt, and the direction of our nation.
My thanks to all the individuals and groups who met with me this week, including: Lowndes County officials; members of the Millbrook Chamber of Commerce; Wiregrass Leaders; Alabama members of the Associated Builders & Contractors; Ronnie Davis, State Director of USDA Rural Development; Alabama Primary Care Association; Sonny Brasfield with Alabama Association of County Commissions; Cecil Robbins with Goodwill Industries; Rocky Milliman, Autauga County EMA Director; Prattville Firefighters; Autauga County elected officials; members of the Prattville Rotary Club; students and staff at Wetumpka High School; Alabama State Education officials; Alabama Power Company; Dr. David Coffey with Health Policy Fellowship; staff and students at Montgomery Head Start; and members of the Montgomery Lions Club.