BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe was among hundreds in the U.S. House of Representatives to cast their vote in favor of a bipartisan, two-year budget agreement, which passed the House on Thursday.
Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City, talked with area media in a conference call on Thursday, speaking in support of the bill and stating that, at that time, it would take someone talking him out of voting in its favor.
Evidently, no one was able to do so as Roe was among 392 Representatives who supported the measure.
The agreement has had strong support from Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican, and numerous other Republicans and Democrats, but has also drawn criticism both from some conservative members of the House and Senate and from some Democrats in both houses of Congress.
The Senate will consider the bill late next week. It was developed by House and Senate Budget Committee Chairmen Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, respectively..
"While this agreement is far from perfect, it will end some of the gridlock in Washington and serves as proof that Republicans and Democrats can still put their differences aside, negotiate in good faith and work together to address the problems our country faces," Roe said in a news release following his vote.
"Most importantly, this bipartisan plan will return the budgeting process to regular order, meaning we will no longer rely on temporary continuing resolutions to fund government operations," Roe added in the release.
Congress' 14-year-long method of funding the nation on continuing resolutions rather than an actual budget is something Roe often laments.
The potential for the bill to set Congress back on track with an annual budget was a highlight to Roe, who said that it "sure beats the heck out of what we've been doing."
"As an added feature, this plan will reduce the deficit by $23 billion," Roe continued in the release.
"This proposal does not raise taxes and eases the pain of sequestration being felt nationwide, particularly on our nation's defense capabilities, which were being stretched very thin.
"Again, no compromise is perfect, but this is a strong step in the right direction."
Roe often has spoken in support of the sequestration, calling it on Thursday "one of the most important votes I've made."
However, he acknowledged concern with the depth of cuts to the Department of Defense resulting from the sequestration agreement and supported this change to that portion of the sequestration.
Thursday's budget bill also discontinued the extension of unemployment benefits, an unpopular move among many Democrats.
Roe also spoke on Thursday concerning his support for cuts to the federal food stamp program.
He said the program doubled in five years and cited the overweight and obesity problem that the nation currently faces.
"Two billion dollars of food stamp, tax-payer money is spent on soda," he said. "That's not food. I think you can make those cuts."
The proposed cuts would take the current budget of nearly $80 billion back to just under $40 billion over the course of 10 years.
"I want a reform of the whole program," he said.
Roe cited the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program as an example to follow.
"It allows people to buy food that is food -- not junk," he concluded.