Republican Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois said on Monday that his constituency is longing for “civility” in politics and President Donald Trump is the one to blame for the lack of polite and rational discourse in a few occasions.
The six-time congressman made appearances before the City Club of Chicago and later the Chicago Tribune editorial board to talk about a wide range of subjects.
“They don't want to hear judgments. They want to hear solutions and that's how I've tried to present myself,” Roskam described the feelings of his constituents. He cited Trump’s tone during the presidential campaign, and his comments on social media.
Roskam said people in his district, which includes portions of the west and northwest suburbs of Chicago, saw two different images of their president last week: one who delivered a measured speech to Congress last Tuesday, and another who tweeted that Barack Obama had Trump’s phones tapped.
“My instinct is that the type of feedback Donald Trump got for Tuesday night is going to eclipse the feedback that he got over the weekend. It’s a hope. It’s speculative. If that’s true, then I think his presidency becomes easier and, if it’s not, then it becomes rockier,” Roskam said after the editorial board meeting.
Roskam also said he views the lack of civility in politics an outgrowth of “one of the toughest (presidential) campaigns that we’ve seen in a long time.” That sent Trump into the Oval Office with low approval ratings and would possibly have done the same to Democrat Hillary Clinton had she won.
However, Roskam said that Trump has made multiple “missteps and foibles” as commander in chief, a role that has “the capacity to set a different tone."
The Trump administration’s new travel ban is an example that the president should work with his Cabinet and Congress, said Roskam.
“The ‘Ready, fire, aim’ element of the first travel ban has been recognized that it didn’t work and this is an example of the baptism by fire of the Trump administration,” he said.
Roskam, who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said taxpayers should jump on tax reform while “there’s an opportunity to jump,” and that the president’s involvement is essential.
“If the president chooses not to engage, I think that’s where it stops. If the president engages, then I think the dynamic shifts and, if he works the Senate significantly, then that could be one of his signature accomplishments,” the congressman said.
As to the issue of repealing Obamacare, “I think we need a lot more discussion,” Roskam said. But he also said that not repealing the health care system would be “insincere” to since it was a promise Republicans made to voters.
“We’re following through on our commitment to responsibly repeal and replace Obamacare,” the congressman tweeted after the House Republicans unveiled Obamacare replacement plan on Tuesday morning.
There were about 50 protesters across from the City Club, criticizing Roskam for avoiding town hall meetings.
The congressman responded that he held the telephone town hall last month that involved 18,000 people and lasted for 75 minutes.
“The House of Representatives is actually the entity in the United States Congress that is the flattest and easiest to get to,” he said, comparing town halls to “participating in big circuses and other things.”
“I didn't run for office to be a ringleader of that kind of circus. I’m interested in trying to get solutions,” he said.