Ambassador to India: Who is Tim Roemer?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tim Roemer is an example of ambassadorial appointment grounded not in six- or seven-figure bundles of cash, like some of those chosen by President Barack Obama, but in priceless political support that came at a crucial time. As a former congressman from the red state of Indiana, Roemer came out early in favor of Obama while he was battling Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Although Obama lost the Indiana primary to his rival, the outcome was so close that some observers saw it as more of a victory for the eventual nominee than for the one-time frontrunner. Obama did, however, carry the Hoosier State in the general election against Republican John McCain, and Obama wasn’t about to forget all the campaigning Roemer did in his home state for the president.

Born on October 30, 1956, in South Bend, Indiana, Roemer graduated from Penn High School, in Mishawaka, IN. He served on the staff of Congressman John Brademas (D-IN) from 1978–1979 while attending the University of California, San Diego, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1979. He earned his M.A. (1982) and Ph.D. in American government (1986) from the University of Notre Dame. His doctoral dissertation was The Senior Executive Service: Retirement and Public Personnel Policy.
From 1985-1989, he worked for Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ), during which time he also taught at American University in Washington, D.C, for one year (1988). In 1989, he married Sally Johnston, daughter of former U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA).
Roemer returned to his home state in 1990 to run for the House of Representatives, winning the 3rd congressional seat. He served the next 12 years in Congress, and built a reputation as a moderate, pro-life Democrat who voted in favor of banning partial birth abortions and not allowing minors to travel across state lines to get abortions.
During his tenure in Congress, he held seats on the intelligence, education and workforce, and science committees. Roemer was happy to support certain free trade plans, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and the Caribbean Basin Initiative. But when it came to proposals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which had the potential to cause his state to lose jobs, Roemer voted “no.”
Education was a major focus of Roemer’s while in Congress. He helped author the Ed-Flex bill, which encouraged states to seek new approaches to education, the “Transition to Teaching” bill, which encouraged professionals to enter the classroom, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which reduced interest rates on student loans, increased Pell Grants, and increased funding for teacher training, and the “School-to-Work” legislation to help non-college-bound high school students gain employment following graduation.
Roemer supported the creation of the AmeriCorps national service program, the expansion of Head Start to provide childcare coverage for women moving from welfare to work, and the “No Child Left Behind Act.”
He was also a vocal supporter of creating a Cabinet-level federal office to improve the nation’s security in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Although he was an original sponsor of the legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Roemer opposed revisions proposed by the Bush administration and ultimately voted against the creation of DHS. Roemer participated in the congressional joint inquiry into the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and sponsored legislation establishing the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, more commonly known as the 9/11 Commission. He then became a member of the commission after deciding not to run for reelection in 2002.
Roemer ran for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee in 2005, and although he gained the support of Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, he lost to Howard Dean. Some Democrats said he was too conservative for the post, due to his pro-life stance on abortion and his oft-mentioned vote against the Clinton economic plan in 1993.
He then became a partner at Johnston & Associates, the lobbying firm started by his father-in-law, before moving on to became president of the Center for National Policy, which bills itself as a non-partisan organization dedicated to improving global security.
Roemer is a distinguished scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a think tank criticized by some environmentalists for its anti-regulation stances. His other affiliations include serving on the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism; The Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Presidential Task Force on Combating the Ideology of Radical Extremism; the National Parks Second Century Commission; the Adams Memorial Foundation, which is authorized to create a memorial in honor of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams and their families; and the  State Department-funded Meridian International Center. He has also served on the boards of the Oshkosh Truck Corporation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Roemer and his wife Sally have four children.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
The Honorable Timothy J. Roemer (Center for National Policy Biography)
Timothy Roemer Biography (Biographical Directory of the United States Congress)
Tim Roemer on Torture (Washington Monthly)
India (AllGov)


Leave a comment