House Republicans need to work with “reasonable Democrats,” said the Republican chair of the House Armed Services Committee. (Photo: Hugh Jackson/Nevada Current)
MONTGOMERY, AL — U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers Thursday treaded a line between bipartisanship and Republican talking points as the Congress prepares to head back to Washington, D.C. to avoid a potential government shutdown.
Rogers, a Republican who chairs the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, told a meeting of the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning that House Republicans need to work with “reasonable Democrats” to pass a spending bill and blamed the far-right wing of the party for a hold-up.
“That’s what you’re going to hear what the whole fuss is about – the far-right wing of my party,” Rogers said. He joked that “they’re like my kinsfolk, you can’t get rid of them.”
U.S. lawmakers must pass a government funding bill by September or begin a partial shutdown on Oct. 1 when the next fiscal year begins.
Rogers said he expected a compromise that would avoid a shutdown. But he implied that the process might get stalled because of “unrealistic expectations” in the far-right wing of the Republican Party.
They might end up with a 30-day spending bill, but he said that problem won’t go away in those 30 days, because “the far-right wants to cut everything except defense and veterans’ benefits to levels seen two years ago.”
“We know COVID has really extorted the cost of everything, and since then, we had rapid inflation,” Rogers said.
Rogers, who called himself a pragmatist, said Republicans might need “reasonable Democrats” to pass the spending bill.
The congressman also praised his Democratic colleagues on the Armed Services Committee, saying they were an example of bipartisanship. He said that they disagree on about 5% of issues, such as nuclear weapons and “transgender stuff,” but the other 95% is bipartisan.
Rogers also leveled some mild criticism at the Alabama Legislature over the battle over the state’s congressional maps. A three-judge federal panel Tuesday ordered a third party to draw new lines, writing that they were “deeply troubled” that a July map approved by the Legislature failed to include a second district where Black voters had a chance to elect their leaders. The state plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I’m so disappointed that the [Alabama] Legislature didn’t pass something that the court would approve,” Rogers said.
On other issues, Rogers stuck with Republican talking points. He expressed support for Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s holds on military promotions over a U.S. Department of Defense policy allowing service members in states that ban abortion to travel to access the services and collect reimbursements for their expenses.
More than 300 military officers have been blocked from military promotions, forcing them to extend deployments or accept temporary assignments during the blockade. It has delayed junior officers moving up ranks.
“We just, we do not speak to those in the Armed Services Committee, because the Defense Department is not a social behavior petri dish for us to experiment on that stuff,” he said.
Rogers suggested the Department of Defense could offer additional leave time to access the services but said paying for airfare and hotels created a political problem.
Rogers also criticized the Biden administration for keeping the U.S. Space Command headquarters in Colorado and said that was a political move to keep the state blue in the next election. The congressman plans to hold a hearing this month on the decision.
“I will tell you the basis the President gives instead, moving will affect readiness, is complete bull,” he paused, “dog. There is no basis for it.”
This story was originally published in the Alabama Reflector. This story was updated on Sept. 7 to replace the word kids with kinsfolk in one of Rogers’ quote.
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