Editorial: Yoho must maintain oversight role
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho has pledged to maintain oversight of the Trump administration — and his constituents will be providing closer oversight of him to ensure that happens.
Yoho, R-Gainesville, was a harsh critic of former President Barack Obama on issues such as executive overreach. Yoho said he'll keep the same standard with President Donald Trump, pushing for the House to stop him from overstepping his constitutional authority and investigate when warranted.
"You're darn right we're going to have oversight of him," Yoho told a Sun editorial board meeting Thursday.
Yoho's discussion with The Sun comes as members of Congress have faced raucous town hall meetings with constituents over issues such as the GOP's promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He expects a similar reception at his first Gainesville town hall of the year on Saturday.
"We're in a country that can protest. We ought to relish that but not abuse that," he said, suggesting disruptions shouldn't be used to keep lawmakers from speaking.
Constituents should be respectful but also let Yoho know about the harmful consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act without an adequate replacement. Yoho said he supports "100 percent repeal-and-replace," opposing any delay between the two, but his replacement ideas would hurt nearly 1.8 million Floridians who bought insurance through the federal exchange and millions of others benefiting from the act.
Yoho, like Trump, supports popular parts of the act such as not allowing coverage to be denied to those with preexisting conditions and letting parents keep children on their coverage until age 26. But Yoho wants to ditch parts of the act that make the rest of it work, such as the individual mandate to buy insurance and taxes that fund insurance subsidies.
He also opposes some GOP plans to keep people covered, such as refundable tax credits. Yoho and other congressional Republicans must do far more than just let people buy coverage across state lines and implement tort reform to keep the percentage of uninsured Americans at the record-low level to which Obamacare has brought it.
Yoho was recently named chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. He spoke to the Australian ambassador after a contentious call between Trump and the Australian prime minister — a controversy that Yoho said was overblown. He said he would do some things differently than Trump, like his use of Twitter, but suggested the president's approach is already producing results on issues such as getting NATO allies to pay more for defense.
Yoho tried but was unable to create a permanent committee providing oversight of the executive branch during Obama's presidency, an idea he said still supports. He said the House should investigate Russian hacking and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian government — but only if initial investigations show further review is warranted, a caveat that could mean less aggressive oversight.
We agree with Yoho that the U.S. needs to avoid getting into more military entanglements abroad. We would like to see him support the diplomacy required to accomplish this, efforts endangered by Trump purging experienced hands from the State Department and unsettling allies.
Yoho could provide a valuable role by being a Republican who truly takes his oversight role seriously. He expects that more members of the public will be paying attention thanks to Trump's election.
"People are waking up," he said. "I think that's a healthy thing for our country."
— This editorial was written by Gainesville Sun opinion editor Nathan Crabbe and represents the opinion of The Sun's editorial board.