What did Roe think about the HAAP explosion?

Hank Hayes • Jan 4, 2019 at 8:30 PM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe initially told reporters in a Friday conference call that the U.S. Army had not reached out to him regarding Thursday’s fire and explosion at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant.

“They have not. I was so deeply involved in what’s here. You just presented news to me because I didn’t know about it,” Roe, R-Tenn., said. “I should have been informed about that. I can’t comment on something I don’t know anything about.

“We will chase that down as soon as this phone call is up. I have been to Holston Munitions many times. I’d just like to know what happened, the cause and if there were any injuries and so forth. I don’t know any of that.”

Justine Barati, director of Public and Congressional Affairs, Joint Munitions Command, responded in a email: “An email was sent to his D.C. and local office contacts notifying them of the event.”

After that email, Roe spokeswoman Whitley Alexander released this statement: “Congressman Phil Roe’s staff was made aware yesterday morning of the explosion that occurred at the Holston Army Ammunition Plant. From the information given to the office from Holston Army Ammunition Plant, the incident was controlled, no workers were in the building at the time of the explosion and one worker was sent to the emergency room for observation. Based on this information, the incident appeared to be under control without significant injuries or damage, no constituents called to express concern about the incident and due to the hectic first-day congressional schedule, the congressman had not yet been briefed on details of the incident. Following the media call today, Holston followed up with information indicating the fire had been fully extinguished and the employee sent to the hospital for observation is scheduled to be released today. The congressman has spoken with Holston officials and will continue to monitor the situation to ensure there is no additional concern to the community.”

Roe also addressed these questions during the conference call:

What’s going on to address the partial government shutdown?

“My concern is not so much this budget — it’ll finally get worked out. It’s next year’s budget. With the Democrats in control of the House … we’re going back to the 2011 budget caps of the Budget Control Act we passed in 2011. That means a drastic reduction in military spending. Now is not the time to be doing that. … This is a partial shutdown. Seventy-five percent of the discretionary budget is funded.”

What’s blocking the possibility of a shutdown deal getting done?

“One of the holdups we’ve got … are Senate rules. The House of Representatives has done its job. We’ve passed an appropriations bill. … The problem is it gets to the Senate and it takes 60 votes to pass anything. One senator can object, and then you have to have a 60-vote threshold to get it on the docket to even discuss it. Until the Senate rules change, you’re going to see this gridlock.”

What do you see happening that might end this government shutdown?

“People have painted themselves into corners. For some reason, it is beyond me why you would not want to protect the southern border of the country. In the last year, they have caught 3,700 known or suspected terrorists. No. 2, 17,000 people have been convicted of a crime … trying to get back into the United States. … This is a very small amount of money in a $1.4 trillion budget. … I do not understand the objection to it. It is all political, and it’s a shame. … There could be something on border security and DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals). … (Trump) offered that a year ago.”

What about the unintended consequences of the shutdown, like taking e-verify off line?

“Shutdowns are never good. Those appropriations are there for a reason, to serve certain functions of government, and you’re correct, we should be doing that.”

Why is the sticking point the border wall and not looking at other forms of protecting the border?

“I think what we’re talking about is not just a border barrier. It is all border security. I’ve been down there and will go back. I’ve talked to those Customs and Border Patrol people. They say they need that barrier to help them do their job to protect this country.”