SYLACAUGA, Ala. – U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers visited Sylacauga on Saturday for the 36th Annual Third District Congressional Art Competition. During the congressman’s visit, SylacaugaNews.com had an exclusive opportunity to talk with him about several issues including North Korea and Saturday’s milestone of President Trump’s first 100 days in office.
First elected in 2002 to represent Alabama’s Third Congressional District, Rep. Rogers currently serves on the House Agriculture, Armed Services, and Homeland Security Committees. He is Chairman of the Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which deals with missile defense and nuclear weapons issues.
Managing Editor Michael Brannon spoke with the Congressman.
BRANNON: Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. You are the chairman of the Armed Services Committee Subcommittee for Strategic Forces which deals with nuclear forces. North Korea is a big threat right now in the world. Where does the United States play a role in this, and what do you think is the next move?
ROGERS: We play a big role for several reasons. One is we are the world’s only military superpower, but also people have to remember we have nearly 300,000 Americans in Seoul, South Korea, as well as probably a little bit larger contingent of Americans in Japan. Each of those is likely to be a target of any near-term strike by North Korea. So, it’s a big deal, not to mention how destabilizing it would be for the Asia-Pacific, and, so, we have a big role, and we also know that North Korea is aggressively trying to get an ICBM that they can get a nuclear weapon on to reach the western coast of the United States. So, there’s a host of reasons for us to be involved. There’s a host of reasons for us to be concerned about the near-term consequences of Kim Jong Un’s actions because he has been so volatile lately and so active.
BRANNON: What seems to have escalated this so recently?
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ROGERS: We don’t really know. It’s such a closed society — we don’t really know if he’s feeling vulnerable about the long-term viability of his regime or what. But he’s really ratcheted up his behavior. People see these launches that he’s done, and these missiles, and they keep failing, and people keep think, well, he’s just a doofus and can’t get it right, and they don’t realize that he’s learning with every launch. We are monitoring them all very closely. We are seeing the progress he makes with each launch. He is very close to having a successful ability to launch in ICBM that could reach the west coast of the United States — not to mention Guam or Hawaii where we have obviously huge American presence on both islands
BRANNON: Does it make you lose sleep at night?
ROGERS: No, I don’t lose sleep, I mean, but we just need to keep careful, but I will admit in the last couple of months I have become more concerned about North Korea than I have Eastern Europe, which for the last couple of years, Eastern Europe and Russian aggression have been the dominant concern of our committee. In the near-term, North Korea is now.
BRANNON: Switching gears to big business — the United States is big business, and just with as any business transition, there is a transition of power. Today marks the 100th day in office for President Trump. What do you think about the transition so far in his administration?
ROGERS: Well, it’s been productive in a couple of ways. One is you’ve seen us be able to repeal a lot of rules and regulations from the Obama administration that he had really ratcheted up in the last few months of his administration — this propagation of rules and regulations that really strangled business. So we’ve been very aggressive in rolling those back, and that’s been successful. We’ve seen a real sense of optimism in the country that, frankly, we needed. Now, we’ve been if not in a recession nearrecession-type levels with the lethargic growth we’ve had for nine years now. So this uptick in the consumer optimism and confidence has really been nice. You see it in the stock market. So that’s been nice. We’ve had some rocky roads with major legislation. The President wanted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. We haven’t gotten that done in the first hundred days, but I feel pretty confident that we are going to get that done, at least out of the House, within the next couple of weeks — we’ll get close to a deal. I am thrilled about the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. That was a huge lift. I think the President deserves a lot of credit for that. So when we return, I think you’re going to see his work on not only getting the wall started on the southwest border to protect us from terrorists as well as other bad elements that are trying to get into our country. But we will start turning more attention to the tax reform and hopefully infrastructure bill sometime this summer.
BRANNON: You’ve been in office for 14 years. What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been so far?
ROGERS: Well, I don’t look at this as me. This is about representing East Alabama. I am most proud about that we have put together a staff that’s done some outstanding constituent service work. Constituent service work is not just helping individuals with things like Social Security claims, veterans claims, and such. But it’s businesses and institutions in my district whether at Auburn University or Jacksonville State University or Honda manufacturing or any of these companies — they’re constituents, too, and to be an advocate for them — an effective advocate — is probably the thing I’m most proud of. I’ve got a staff that has a lot of seniority, and that institutional knowledge is invaluable. It’s pretty uncommon that members are able to keep staff long-term like we’ve been able to do. So I am most proud of the fact that we have been able to put together that kind of operation in our offices.
BRANNON: Where we are [at Marble City Media], we have several job openings, and when we interview people, we ask them “where do you see yourself in five years?” While your resume may not be circulating around, where do you see yourself in five years?
ROGERS: Still in the House. I had a chance to pursue the Senate seat when Jeff Sessions left. I could’ve pursued the appointment with the Governor, and I chose not to, and now that the new Governor has called a special election, I could’ve chosen to pursue it, but the fact is, I have become a very senior member of the House of Representatives. I expect, in the next Congress, to be the full committee chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. And then two years after that, I intend to pursue the full committee chairmanship for Armed Services. Those are both very big goals, and that’s the kind of seniority and influence this district deserves, and I hope we will be able to get it.
Rogers was at Sylacauga’s Isabel Anderson Comer Museum & Arts Center to present awards to five high school students who have been invited to hang their winning 2017 Congressional Art Competition entries in the walkway to Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Michael Brannon for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.