Roe announces retirement, cites accomplishments

Hank Hayes • Jan 3, 2020 at 10:56 AM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe announced on Friday he will retire and not run for a seventh term in 2020 to represent Northeast Tennessee’s First Congressional District.

“Serving East Tennesseans these past 11 years has been the honor of my life, and I will be forever grateful for the trust my friends and neighbors put in me to represent them. As someone who practiced medicine for over 30 years, I said I would serve five or six terms because I never intended this job to be a second career,” Roe, 74, said in a statement. “After prayerful consideration, I have decided to retire at the end of the 116th Congress.

“First and foremost, I want to thank my family. No one could do this job without a loving a supportive family, and I look forward to spending more time at home with my wife, Clarinda, my adult children and my grandchildren.

“As a veteran, I was honored to be selected to chair the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in 2017. I had one-, three- and six-year legislative goals for the committee: to increase access to care, improve the electronic health records system, review VA assets to ensure an effective use of resources, and bring true accountability to the department. I never could have imagined that we would accomplish all that in my first term leading the committee — in large part because of the leadership of President Trump. In particular, I was proud to author the MISSION Act — a transformative piece of legislation to ensure veterans have the ability to receive the best possible care now, and in the future — and the Forever GI Bill — to ensure veterans never lose access to the education benefits they have earned. I’ll leave Congress at the end of the year knowing that our nation’s heroes are better served today because of our work. I am still hopeful that, before the 116th Congress adjourns, we will pass important reforms that improve outreach to veterans in crisis to address the suicide epidemic.

“When I first ran for Congress, my hope was that someone with experience as a practicing physician could positively influence health care policy. The Affordable Care Act was signed into law during my first term, and much of my time was spent trying to undo some of the harm that was done to the patient-centered health care model as a result. We have made great progress in reversing some of the most damaging effects of this law such as passing my bill to repeal a government payment setting board that likely would have rationed care. We took the teeth out of the individual mandate and just last month repealed three harmful taxes that discouraged medical innovation and drove up costs for patients. I am also very proud of legislation I introduced while chairing the Republican Study Committee’s Health Care Task Force that would replace the ACA with reforms to actually lower costs for patients and improve the quality of health care. Perhaps most significantly, as co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus, I led my colleagues in the fight to repeal the Medicare formula which threatened patients’ access to their physicians and to improve Medicare for seniors. I am still hopeful that before this Congress ends, we will address surprise medical bills in a way that protects patients and is fair to doctors and payers.

“As a senior member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, I was proud to be on the forefront of some very consequential accomplishments. The work we did to help workers’ retirement security through multiemployer pension reforms in 2014 is significant. I was also pleased to be a part of passing the Every Student Succeeds Act to repeal and replace the burdensome federal mandates associated with No Child Left Behind Act. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, we were able to provide careful oversight of labor reforms being pursued by the Obama administration that were holding back job growth. There’s no question in my mind this oversight played a part in helping the Trump administration identify those burdensome rules and regulations.

“Finally, I’m proud of the bipartisan successes. They don’t always make the headlines, but they are critical to our nation’s future. Legislation I authored has dramatically increased the availability of lifesaving epinephrine in schools for those who suffer from deadly food allergies; and the Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial will be built on the National Mall in the coming years as a result of four years of effort to get my bill across the finish line.

“The challenges we are facing now as complex as ever, and I still have a lot of fire in my belly. I look forward to finishing my term strongly for the East Tennesseans that I love representing and working with President Trump in favor of the free-market, conservative policies so many of us hold dear. I am equally confident East Tennessee is full of capable public servants who will step up to fill my void, and I am ready to give them the opportunity to do so.

“I will always cherish the friends I’ve made and people I’ve met. I could not be more grateful to my family, my staff, the volunteers, the veterans, and the numerous East Tennesseans who have made this job so rewarding.

“Thank you for giving me the great honor to represent you in Congress.”

Roe, R-Tennessee, is the ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and chaired the committee in the 115th Congress. Additionally, he serves on the House Education and Labor Committee. Previously, he was a member of the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans.

As a physician, Roe is the co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus and a co-chair of the Congressional Academic Medicine Caucus. As the chair of the Republican Study Committee’s Health Care Task Force for the past three congresses, Roe has helped write a patient-centered, free-market legislative alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

Prior to serving in Congress, Roe served as the mayor of Johnson City from 2007 to 2009 and vice mayor from 2003 to 2007.

Aug. 6 is the Republican primary election. Early voting begins on July 17. Candidate petitions will be issued on Feb. 3.

When asked in a conference call with reporters who might be interested in succeeding him, Roe responded: “I think that will work its way out. I haven’t talked to anybody much about running. They’ll come out pretty quickly.”

As of the end of September 2019, Roe had about $240,000 cash on hand in his campaign account, according to the Federal Election Commission.

A Democrat hasn’t represented the district since Reconstruction.