For Rogers and Palmer, new roles in a GOP minority

For Rogers and Palmer, new roles in a GOP minority

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than a month into the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congress is still adjusting to the new reality.

Most House Republicans have never served in the minority before, and many House Democrats have never served in the majority.

For two Alabama Congressmen, the majority switch is coinciding with their assumption of new, influential roles.

Rep. Mike Rogers is now Ranking Member on the Homeland Security Committee and Rep. Gary Palmer is now the Chairman of the GOP Policy Committee.

Both congressmen sat down with Alabama Daily News on Wednesday to discuss their new roles.

“We’ve tried to warn them and prepare them,” Rogers said of his fellow Republicans who have never served in the minority before.

“You know, the fact is over 70 percent has been here since the 2010, so they only know being in the majority.”

First elected in 2002, Rogers has seen the House flip back and forth from Republican-to-Democrat-controlled three times. He said the mission is always to accomplish good government, but the goal is ultimately to win the majority back.

“We’re not driving the bus, we’re riding in the bus. I like driving the bus,” he said.

“It’s going to probably be three months before they finally settle on the changes. We want to try to resist bad government, look for ways to work with them on good government, but our main goal is to get the majority back so we can start driving the bus again.”

As Ranking Member, Rogers serves as the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee. While there are plenty of areas where the two parties will disagree, Rogers said there is also common ground.

“I’m going to be meeting with Chairman Thompson this week. We’ve already gotten signals from the majority about what they are going to be working on.”

He said Republicans will resist repeated efforts to attack President Trump on issues like Russian election interference and Puerto Rico hurricane relief.

“However, I am in agreement with the Democrat majority we have cyber vulnerabilities that we need to protect against in the future. And we do need to spend a good amount of time talking about how can we protect our election systems from tampering because we know there are bad actors that want to tamper with election results.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., third from right, speaks following a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, for the House Republican leadership elections. Joining McCarthy are, from left, Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., Rep. Jason Smith , R- Mo., House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Palmer has taken over as Chairman of the House GOP Policy Committee, an in-house think tank of sorts that promotes conservative ideas among the House Republican Conference.

That puts him on the House GOP leadership team for the 116th Congress alongside Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

Palmer told Alabama Daily News that his role leading the Policy Committee becomes more important in the minority, not less.

“I was leading a conservative think tank in Alabama when Democrats ruled the Legislature with a supermajority, so I understand being in the minority,” he said.

Before his service in Congress, Palmer led the Alabama Policy Institute, a Birmingham-based think tank that studied state problems and proposed conservative solutions.

“When you’re in the majority, you’re legislating. When you’re in the minority, you’re messaging.

“The Democrats are going to come with their agenda of legislation, and I am not exaggerating when I say it is a radical leftist agenda. And so it will be our job not just to oppose it and vote against it, but to explain why their policies would take our country backwards and why our ideas advance freedom and opportunity.”

One issue Palmer said he is eager to push back against the Democrats on is energy, specifically the “New Green Deal” push for transitioning to renewable energy.

“Take energy, for example. This “New Green Deal” they are talking about is not just wildly expensive, it’s really not feasible from a power grid standpoint. There’s nothing wrong with renewables, but let’s not pretend we can turn around tomorrow and run an entire country off wind and solar. That’s not how it works.”

Stay tuned for podcast episodes of the full conversations with Reps. Rogers and Palmer.