Texas Congressman Chip Roy (R-21) held a public forum in downtown Austin on Tuesday evening. Roy was elected in 2018 to the seat vacated by 32-year incumbent, Lamar Smith. The forum was hosted at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) and lasted about an hour.
Among the topics discussed were border security, the national debt, healthcare, and the environment. Questions were tossed at the Congressman — a former Vice-President at TPPF — by both moderator Kevin Roberts, Executive Director of TPPF, and some in the audience.
The first moderator question asked the congressman what he has been pleasantly surprised by in Washington. “The energy, enthusiasm, skill, and commitment to America, on both sides of the aisle, of the freshman class,” Roy responded — pointing specifically to fellow Texan Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) as colleagues Roy enjoys working with.
When asked why he announced — even before Roy was sworn in — that he’d be joining the Freedom Caucus, Roy stated “I’m a loyal guy,” referring to their support for him early in the crowded 18-candidate primary. Roy also admires their “[commitment] to principles” that are not tied exclusively to party and believes that is something “both sides can appreciate” even if one disagrees with the principles.
Roy cited his vote against continuing operations in Yemen as an example of putting principle over party. He believes a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF) should be debated by Congress to justify operations overseas. The existing AUMF–which Congress passed in the months after the 9/11 attacks– has largely remained unchanged.
Describing the dire situation at the U.S. southern border, Roy mentioned that “Tamaulipas, the state across the border [from Texas], is [listed as] a level four state by the State Department — which means it’s a no-travel zone.” He followed that by saying, “[Tamaulipas] is more dangerous than Honduras and El Salvador, the places these people are [escaping from].”
The solution Roy identified is “end[ing] cartel ownership of the border, enforcing our asylum laws on the books” — that include accurately assessing an individual’s credible fear claim of persecution in their home country — and securing low-patrolled areas which “force[s] them to go through ports of entry.”
One of the central campaign platforms that Roy ran on was what he has described as “healthcare freedom.” When Roberts asked what his solution is on healthcare, Roy stressed that he is of the opposite perspective of those on the Left, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who advocate for the federal government to serve as the single-payer for both care and coverage.
Roy has a problem with the way the debate is framed as it starts from what he describes as, “the false notion that [healthcare] coverage, as the singular variable, is the thing we should focus on the most.” As he put it, “crap coverage is still crap.” Roy stated his preference for an approach that lies in “[ensuring] people have access to the doctor of their choice, can afford it by driving competition, and [improving] health savings accounts.”
Direct primary care doctors, Roy pointed out, often offer the same services at a significantly cheaper rate than do insurance companies or doctors associated with them. Instead of “fearing that if you lose your job, you [also] lose your healthcare, you should be able to take your healthcare with you,” Roy said, suggesting policy changes to health insurance similar to how auto and life insurance operate.
Addressing renewable energy, Roy stressed “you can’t be 100 percent renewable,” pointing to Georgetown, Texas which claims to be entirely powered by renewable energy, yet relies heavily on the larger grid powered by fossil fuels.
“In Texas, we lead the nation in wind power, yet at max it amounts to 15 to 17 percent of our grid and at peak, it’s less than 10 percent,” the Congressman explained to the audience. The American Wind Energy Association rated Texas as the highest wind-producing state in the country. Roy repeatedly emphasized utilizing abundant, affordable energy such as liquefied natural gas and clean-burning coal as the best approach.
In the audience question portion of the forum, the testiest exchange of the night occurred when one attendee challenged the Congressman on energy sources, specifically asking Roy to “cite one source” he uses to justify his opposition to renewable subsidies. Roy, after an exchange, mentioned Dr. Scott Tinker at the University of Texas as one source he uses.
The event included no disruptions or interruptions, and TPPF’s Roberts described the event as “a wonderful, civil conversation.” This was the fourth town hall Congressman Roy has held in as many months during his short time in Congress.
Roy won his election in 2018 by a percentage of 50.1 to 47.6 against Democrat challenger, Joseph Kopser. Congressman Roy will be up for re-election in 2020.
Roy is a member of the House Oversight, Budget, and Veteran’s Affairs committees.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.