Rep. Rooney tackles tough issues

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, addressed some of the most talked-about issues in the country at a town hall meeting hosted by the Republican Club of the Northern Palm Beaches on Monday in Palm Beach Gardens.

Rooney’s primary topic — one he and other congressmen across party lines have elevated to a top priority — is the War Powers Act. Rooney introduced a resolution, and testified before Congress this month, stating that President Obama is in violation of the War Powers Resolution. The resolution sets a requirement for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Libya unless Congress authorizes military action.

“If, we, Congress, don’t weigh in, it sets a precedent, ”Rooney said. “If we don’t assert ourselves, we surrender to the executive branch.”

The constitutionality of the issue is a subject familiar to Rooney, who was asked to teach constitutional and criminal law at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2002.

The congressman shared insight and anecdotal examples of the new landscape on Capitol Hill. He said he is aware of the dynamic that exists with the current leadership and the incoming freshmen, adding that “freshmen, like Allen West and many others like him around the country, have changed the dialogue.” According to Rooney, freshmen are telling leadership the way they see it and that it is clearly time for a new generation.

Rooney’s past service in the military — spanning more than four years in the U.S.Army JAG corps — and his continuing service on the House Armed Services Committee give him an upper hand in understanding issues concerning U.S. military interests.

His praise for the SEAL team that took down Osama bin Laden, his references to the chatter that surrounded that mission and other comments about the country’s foreign and military affairs prompted Cindy Tindell, vice president of the Republican Club of the Northern Palm Beaches, to ask about cutting off aid to Pakistan and withdrawing from Afghanistan. Rooney’s response, prefaced by the congressman explaining that it is not a black-and-white subject, was that Pakistan is a contradiction that we have to live with right now. The country does cooperate on some levels, but it is “extremely paranoid, and secretly hope we lose.”

As for the troops withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, Rooney says the countries will soon be staffed primarily with Special Forces, CIA and other intelligence officers, not regular troops.

On the subjects of balancing the budget, the Ryan proposal and taking on major hot-button issues like Medicaid, Rooney reaffirmed his commitment to having the courage it takes to tackle such difficult challenges.

In answering the perennial question of whether Congress, Republicans and House Speaker John Boehner in particular understand Americans’ anger over the national debt and Washington’s out-of-control spending, Rooney said simply: “This is the moment of truth.”

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