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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Cole on House budget: "This is our opening position"

March 24, 2015
Speech

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), during consideration of the rule for the House Republican budget for fiscal year 2016, made the following remarks on the House floor in support of the proposal:

I want to pick up and thank my friend and thank our chairman of the Rules Committee for doing exactly what he just suggested, bringing us a rule that lets everybody bring their choices to the floor. That is what we all like to do around here.

Interestingly enough, we essentially have three Democratic choices and three Republican choices, and we are going to have an opportunity for people to express a variety of opinions and arrive at a consensus in this body.

Now, obviously, as a Republican, I like all three Republican alternatives pretty well. I think my friend Mr. Woodall has always worked on the Republican Study Committee budget; it gets us to balance faster than anything else on this floor.

The reality is, if you look at the three Republican budgets, they have several things in common. The first is they make tough choices because we have got an $18 trillion debt; and, just left on autopilot, that will increase by another $7.2 trillion. It aims to bring these things into balance, and each one of those Republican budgets does that—the Republican Study Committee budget a little bit faster—but all within the 10-year budget window.

Second, they all repeal Obamacare—not a big surprise. No Republican voted for it. We have never liked it, and it would be remiss of us not to continue to argue our position.

Third, they all call for major tax reforms. We all know that lowering rates, eliminating exemptions, and rationalizing the Tax Code contributes to economic growth.

They all, frankly, defend the country pretty well. We do it in different ways, and we have debates, but they all manage to do that, and none of them raise taxes in the process of achieving those objectives.

I am pretty content with the Republican choices in front of us and look forward to that. I think it behooves us all to remember—and it gets lost in this debate—a budget is not the law of the land. The budget is, essentially, a negotiating position.

The President submitted a budget earlier. That is his initial negotiating position. Whatever emerges from this debate today is likely to be the Republican initial negotiating position. My friends on the other side will present a budget today which I presume represents their initial negotiating position. They have also got other budgets within the context of that—perfectly appropriate. We do, too, but they will have a general position. Our friends in the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, are wrestling with this very issue as we talk.

Now, we seem to forget, as we draw our differences and distinctions here, we do live in an era of divided government; and despite what many people think, we do occasionally come to compromises around here.

Now, I am pretty pleased we have lowered the budget deficit every year that we have been in the majority, but that has entailed some compromises. We compromised in the Ryan-Murray agreement. That was actually a pretty good agreement that both sides were happy with.

Frankly, this week, we will probably compromise on the so-called doc fix, the SGR. We compromised last December on the CR/Omnibus bill which, again, gave us some fiscal stability.

I suspect, as we all define our initial negotiating positions, at some point down the road, we will indeed compromise. The President of the United States has got a signature that is going to have to happen to any appropriations bill. Our friends have a filibuster control in the upper House.

My hope is we state our positions. I am very content with where we are opening this debate; and then, frankly, over the course of the months ahead, we work together and see if we can find that common ground.

That common ground ought to do what the Republicans are trying to do in terms of lowering the deficit, reforming entitlements, not raising taxes, and moving us in a fiscally responsible direction while we modernize our Tax Code. That is our opening position. I look forward to defending it.

I thank my friend Mr. Woodall for bringing this excellent rule to the floor, which allows everybody to put forward their position. Mr. Speaker, I urge support of the rule.

Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165

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