Texas GOP Congressman Chip “No Empathy” Roy --He Puts Trump’s Anti-Immigration Obsession Over His Disaster- Stricken State — June 2, 2019
For too many hard- right GOP Congressmen, it’s the “I” word, “ideology,” over the “E” word “empathy,” when their own states are not involved. When Hurricane Sandy devastated the Democratic Northeast Coast in 2012, Waco GOP TX Cong. Bill Flores voted against disaster aid to Sandy victims because not enough budget cut offsets had been made. However, when a fertilizer plant in West, TX, in his own 17th Congressional District (CD) exploded, on 4/17/2013, Flores’ ideological qualms suddenly disappeared. He and then GOP laissez-faire Gov. Rick Perry pushed for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) help and then some from Obama’s administration. Another TX GOP Congressman, Mike Conaway, represents the Lone Star State’s 11th CD, the Midland area where W Bush grew up. Conaway was an investor and chief financial officer in Arbusto, W’s oil and gas company (CQ & Barone 14 Political Almanacs, Cheney, K. & Matishak, M., 4/06/17). Rep. Conaway, a CPA, votes with his hard-right party in the 98%-99% range (CQ & Barone14). He too voted against aid to Hurricane Sandy victims (Kelly, C., dallasnews.com, 8/26/17). He is all for cutting federal spending under a “strict constructionist” view of the Constitution. However, Conaway defends disaster aid for livestock producers hit by drought and price protection for farmers, major constituents in his state and district. Conaway opposed a bipartisan effort to end the production of mohair, which comes from Angora goats. The Mohair Council of America and many Agora farmers are in Conaway’s 11th CD (CQ & Barone 14). Of course, when Hurricane Harvey slammed TX hard, Congressmen Flores and Conaway voted for aid (projects.propublica.org, 9/06/17). We can call truly call Congressmen Flores and Conaway members of the “GHP/ Grand Hypocrisy Party.”
TX GOP Congressman Chip Roy has gone one step further. On 5/24/2019, Roy, a former chief-of-staff to radical right firebrand TX GOP Senator Ted Cruz, used his power as a single lawmaker to play obstructionist. Roy alone objected to a procedural vote that would have allowed the Senate’s 85-8 approved $19.1 billion disaster aid package to pass through the House without that full chamber being present. Under House rules, passage of this bill would have to be unanimous, since most lawmakers had left D.C. on 5/23/2019 for a week long recess. When Cong. Donna Shalala (D-FL) asked for unanimous consent on this package, Cong. Roy objected. In a brief speech, Roy stated that he was concerned about the decision to leave out Trump’s request for about $4.5 billion for the southwestern border, part of it for detention facilities that Democrats oppose. The House adjourned until Tuesday, 5/28/2019, for another procedural vote on this issue. On 5/28/2019, Cong. Thomas Massie (R-KY), another ideological extremist, made a second successful objection to this unanimous consent vote. Massie praised Cong. Roy as a “hero (nytimes.com, Cochrane, E., 5/28/19).” On 5/30/2019, TN GOP Cong. John Rose made the third Republican objection to the unanimous consent vote on the disaster bill package (nytimes.com, Cochrane, E., 5/30/19). Rep. Rose stated he had communicated with Cong. Roy on 5/24/2019 and on 5/29/2019 (cnn.com, Foran & Killough, 5/30/19). The disaster relief bill vote will now have to wait until the lower chamber returns in the first week of 6/2019. The House will then have to have a full for vote on this measure. Trump had promised to sign this legislation even without the border funds he had pushed for (nytimes.com, Cochrane, E., 5/24/19, AP, 5/24/19, cnn.com, 5/30/19).
Roy’s objection to this crucial disaster relief bill was another setback in a more than four months effort to reach agreement on this package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Cong. Roy’s move “last-minute sabotage” and an “act of staggering political cynicism.” This Roy-enforced delay, followed by Massie’s and Rose’s copycat blocking, left farmers, military bases, and communities struggling to recover from hurricanes, wildfires, and floods over the last two years (nytimes.com, Cochrane, E., 5/24/19,5/30/19, AP, 5/24/19). Cong. Roy is holding up much money that would go to Trump strongholds including the FL Panhandle, rural GA, NC, IA, and NE. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in NC and Offutt Air Force Base in NE would receive money to rebuild (AP, 5/24/19). Some GOPers, including GA’s Congressmen Jody Hice and Austin Scott, condemned Roy’s procedural objection. Cong. Scott called Roy’s action a “cheap political stunt (nytimes.com, Cochrane, 5/24/19).” On Twitter, Cong. Scott called GOP House objectors delaying this bill “clowns (Shutt, J., 5/2819, rollcall.com).” Even Roy’s mentor, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) voted for this disaster bill (Cochrane). Roy could care less. These floods didn’t hit Roy’s district (AP, 5/24/19). The rest of TX, those other states, and our U.S. servicemembers are irrelevant. Roy’s attitude? “Empathy be damned.” It’s all about Donald’s anti-immigration obsession. Here’s Cong. Roy.
Freshman GOP Congressman Charles Eugene “Chip” Roy (46) currently represents TX’s 21st Congressional District (CD). The current TX 21st is located in the Lone Star State’s central area. The 21st stretches from San Antonio to Austin. The parts of those two cities in the 21st are connected by Interstate 35 (I-35), one of the great commercial routes between the U.S. and Mexico. More than 1/3 of the 21st’s residents live in ritzy eastern San Antonio neighborhoods, including Terrell Hills, Olmos Park, and Alamo Heights, just outside that major city or in the northern suburbs of Bexar (BEAR) County. The 21st takes in Fort Sam Houston including its renowned Brooke Army Medical Center. Going north toward Austin, the 21st includes fast growing Buda. In the Austin area, this CD has Zilker Park and the historic 6th Street entertainment district. The 21st also includes what is known as the Hill Country, the counties between San Antonio and Austin west of that urban area. The cities of New Braunfels, Boerne, and Fredericksburg are in this region. Gillespie, Bandera, Blanco, Kerr, Real, and Kendall Counties lie in the 21st. Gillespie County contains the LBJ ranch where Lyndon Johnson is buried. LBJ grew up in neighboring Blanco County’s Johnson City. Besides tourism and the military, agriculture is an economic mainstay. Gillespie County produces TX’s largest peach crop while cattle and goats graze across Kerr, Kendall, and Real Counties (Barone & CQ14).
The Hill Country was settled by Germans in the mid-19th Century and was anti-slavery and pro-GOP from the start. Old-fashioned German dialect is still heard on the streets of New Braunfels, Bourne, and Fredericksburg. More than 3 million tourists visit New Braunfels every year for German wine tasting, beer, and sausage (Barone 14). Politically, the rural counties, especially Gillespie, are GOP strongholds. Although Travis County, where Austin is located, leans Democratic, the 21st CD takes in Austin’s southwestern and southern neighborhoods Oak Hill and Onion Creek, GOP areas. The recent Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gives the TX 21st an R+10 score (cookpolitical.com/file, 4/07/17). The 21st gave Mitt Romney 59.8% of its vote in 2012. In 2016, Donald won by a 10% margin (Pres. Race Results, CQ & Barone 14).
Bethesda, MD native Chip Roy grew up in Lovettsville, VA, a few miles from the Potomac River, an area rich in early American History. His conservative parents shaped his political views (statesman.com, Price, A., 4/01/16). After getting his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of VA, Roy spent three years as a banking analyst. He obtained his law degree from the University of Texas (UT). At UT, Roy worked for then Atty. General John Cornyn’s office. Roy joined GOP Cornyn’s successful 2002 U.S. Senate campaign. Roy worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee in D.C. and later became a U.S. Atty. in TX. After Democrat Obama won the Presidency, GOPer Roy worked for Gov. Rick Perry, now Trump’s Energy Secretary. Roy ghost-wrote Perry’s 2010 right-wing/ anti-government book “Fed Up!” Perry appointed Roy to direct the office of State-Federal relations, an agency Roy suggested abolishing during his confirmation hearing (expressnews.com, Scherer, J., 5/13/18, statesman.com, Price). GOP TX U.S. Senator Ted Cruz chose Roy as his chief-of-staff, after he was elected to the Senate in 2012 (Svitek, P., 12/06/17). While Cruz’s chief-of-staff, Roy saw his mentor shut down the government for 16 days in an unsuccessful attempt to repeal Obamacare (see nytimes.com, Cochrane, 5/24/19).
After GOPer Ken Paxton was elected TX Atty. General in 2014, Roy became first assistant attorney general. In 2016, Roy left that office to head the Trusted Leadership PAC that supported Cruz’s presidential campaign (dallasnews.com, 3/10/16). In the 2018 election, 21st CD GOP incumbent Cong. Lamar Smith did not run again. With Smith’s endorsement, Roy won an 18- field primary and the runoff (expressnews.com, Scherer, 5/13/18). Ted Cruz and the hard-right Club for Growth endorsed Roy and Koch Industries gave him $5,000 (projectspropublica.org, sourcewatch.org, Scherer). The ultra-hard right Freedom Caucus also financially supported him (Scherer). Roy campaigned on delegating Medicare to the states, having Congress pass a balanced budget, and not allowing judges to “legislate from the bench,” read reactionary “strict constructionism.” In 2011, at age 39, Roy was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, requiring grueling radiation and chemo treatments. Roy is now in good health. Even after this harrowing cancer experience, Roy remained a health care reform opponent (expressnews.com Scherer). Despite the GOP lean in this district, Roy eked out a 3% win (texastribune.org, 4/05/19, Svitek).
Cong. Roy is a proud member of the ultra-far right House Freedom Caucus (roll.com). He backs Demagogue Donald’s priorities 90% of the time, according to a CQ Vote Watch (rollcall.com). We should not be surprised about Roy’s hardline immigration stance. He follows his predecessor Lamar Smith. Smith opposed W Bush’s 2007 proposal to create a path for citizenship for illegal immigrants. When he ran for Congress, Roy told voters that the DACA act was unconstitutional and illegal, and he was glad State Atty. General Paxton had challenged it in court (Scherer, 5/13/18). On 5/23/2019, Roy was also just one of three Congressmen who voted against repealing a provision in Trump’s top 1% tax cut law that had raised taxes on military families (shareblue.com, Wills, 5/24/19). Roy lacks empathy for military families, people who suffer from high medical bills, and those trying to recover from natural disasters.
After Roy’s 2018 narrow victory and his reactionary record in the current 116th Congress, national Democratic organizations are making a major effort to defeat Roy in Campaign 2020. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, (DCCC) which helps select and finances Democratic congressional candidates, launched a four-figure digital ad buy in the TX 21st . That ad attacked Cong. Roy for “keeping Texas families underwater.” A DCCC spokesman called Roy’s 21st CD a “top tier Democratic pickup (rollcall.com).” The 21st is one of six-GOP held TX seats that Dems are targeting in 2020. Dem. Joseph Kopser, who lost to Roy by a 3% margin, decided not to run again. Wendy Davis, a former TX Democratic state Senator, is considering running for the 21st seat (texastribune.com, Svitek, 4/05/19). Davis was best known for her 2013 unsuccessful 13-hour filibuster attempt to block restrictive abortion regulations, which attracted national attention. In 2014, she ran for Governor but was clobbered by GOPer Greg Abbott. Her gubernatorial campaign was attacked by many in the media for exaggerating her own biography and for offensive campaign ads (Slater,W.,dallasnews.com, 1/18/19, msnbc.com, Roth,Z.,10/11/14). Should she be the 21st’s nominee, Davis will have to run a far smarter campaign in this “Red-leaning” district. Whoever becomes the Democratic nominee, will need a lot of financial support to counter GOP and Koch money that will bolster Roy. Roy can be beaten on his own obstructionist record, but to defeat him will, most importantly, require strong Democratic and moderate turnout.