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Turning Point in Congress

ROBY WEEKLY COLUMN: October 30, 2015

This week marked a significant turning point in Congress as Paul Ryan was elected to be the new Speaker of the House. Of course, outside of his service in Congress, Paul Ryan is best known as Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 presidential election. He has spent this year as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and was previously Chairman of the Budget Committee, both important positions with considerable influence on fiscal policy. He has been a leading voice for supply-side, conservative economics for years, and his “Path to Prosperity” budgets, though never passed by the Senate, were the blueprint of Republicans’ vision for conservative governing.

When former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced he would retire at the end of September, it was unclear who would ultimately emerge to lead the House of Representatives. I’m a conservative, so I wanted a bold leader who could unite Republicans and advance a conservative agenda. Paul Ryan is uniquely qualified for such a task, and when he stepped forward for consideration, I was proud to support him.

I sincerely hope Speaker Ryan will be able to lay out a path to success despite a tough political environment. The Senate is still badly gridlocked, and even when we do get a conservative bill through, President Obama stands ready with his veto pen. Those realities don’t change, but I believe a united majority working together in the House puts us in a much stronger position to advance good bills and stop bad ones.

New leadership is a good thing sometimes. I was encouraged to hear Speaker Ryan say the House would return to “regular order,” meaning legislation is put forth from Members and Committees instead of being pushed from the very top. As he said upon taking the oath of office, “Only a fully functioning House can truly represent the people.”

However, this change in leadership doesn’t mean everyone is going to suddenly start agreeing on every issue, every time. There are 435 Members of Congress from all over the country and our views are bound to vary. What’s important is to have a Speaker of the House who will listen to each Member, consider our concerns and priorities, and keep the commitments he makes to us and the American people.

No matter who is Speaker, my job is to look out for the interests of those I represent and to fight on their behalf in Washington. Your priorities remain my priorities, and I’m proud to represent you in Congress.

There’s lot of work to do. As we turn the page and begin a new chapter in Congress, I look forward to working with Speaker Ryan and my other colleagues to move America ahead by advancing responsible, conservative, common sense ideas.

ROBY WEEKLY COLUMN: October 23, 2015

A Revealing Email; An Evasive Explanation

As you know, on Thursday former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared before the Select Committee on Benghazi to answer questions about what happened before, during and after the September 11, 2012 attack on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. It was a long hearing with hours of back-and-forth testimony and I wanted to share a few quick takeaways from one of my own exchanges with Mrs. Clinton.

In my first question, I asked Clinton about an email between State Department employees regarding Clinton’s awareness of the American presence and security situation in Benghazi, Libya months before attack.

In an email dated February 9, 2012, Alyce N. Abdalla said the following to State Department colleague Evyenia Sidereas:

“Also, the Secretary asked last week if we still have a presence in Benghazi – I think she would be upset to hear that yes we do but because we don’t have enough security they are on lockdown.”

I asked Clinton how this email squared with her claims to have been closely involved in the Libya strategy.

“How could this be,” I asked, “that two of your staffers are emailing about whether or not you even knew that we had a presence in Benghazi in 2012 with all your interest in Libya in 2011?”

Clinton said she “couldn’t comment on what has been reported,” about the emails and insisted “of course I knew we had a presence in Benghazi.”

I then asked Clinton why dedicated State Department employees would fabricate a substantive conversation with the Secretary of State about a country she had made such a priority. In the long explanation that followed, Clinton again insisted she was aware of the situation in Benghazi and implied that Ms. Abdalla was a low-level employee disconnected from her inner circle. Actually, Abdalla was the Libya Desk Officer, making her directly responsible for awareness of the situation in Libya.

When Clinton told me she had “no recollection” of the conversation, I twice asked her to look at the email in the binder in front of her to refresh her memory. Twice, Secretary Clinton refused to look at the binder.

This was only my first of multiple exchanges with Secretary Clinton, but it is emblematic of the evasive nature of some of her answers. As Secretary of State at the time of the attacks on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Clinton should have been more straightforward in answering questions, particularly when they relate to her awareness of the political and security situation leading up to the attack.

Mrs. Clinton is an important witness in our investigation about the Benghazi attacks, but certainly not the only one. More witnesses remain and our Committee will press forward in gathering the facts needed to form a conclusive report.


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