Cole's Opening Remarks in Support of Omnibus Bill
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) offered the following opening remarks today on the House Floor while managing the rule for H.R. 3547, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014.
Madam Speaker, I want to commend my good friends Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey for bringing to this House a bipartisan bill that brings to a close the fiscal year 2014 appropriations process, while maintaining the Republican commitment to fiscal responsibility. Since Republicans took control of the House, we’ve cut discretionary spending four years in a row—this is the first time since the Korean War that’s occurred. At the same time, this bill provides no new funding for the Affordable Care Act, and also includes a pension fix for medically retired personnel and survivor benefit plan annuitants. While there is still work to be done to ensure that we honor service of our veterans and military retirees, this is a good bipartisan first step.
Madam Speaker, I know many of my friends here voted against the Ryan-Murray compromise budget, and they voted against the fiscal cliff deal of 2011; however, look at where these pieces of legislation have brought us. We’ve cut discretionary spending four years in a row to a level $164 billion below the fiscal year 2008 level—the last year of the Bush presidency. That’s a feat to be commended. We’ve dealt with tax expenditures, in part, as a portion of the fiscal cliff deal. Yet, despite this progress, we still have not been able to close over $600 billion of our annual budget deficit.
Madam Speaker, discretionary spending has paid more than its fair share in dealing with our budget deficit. Entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid spending and other mandatory programs must be reformed in order to put us on a path to a balanced budget. And with the passage of this omnibus, which releases us from the threat of a government shutdown, we’re showing the American people that we actually are capable of working in a bipartisan manner. I hope in the future we can work to capitalize on our bipartisan success and bring America’s bloated debt and deficit under control.
Madam Speaker, passing this rule and this omnibus spending bill is the responsible thing to do. It’s the thoughtful thing to do. As opposed to lurching from crisis to crisis, this omnibus is carefully crafted over a period of many months. And it sets priorities, controls spending and reasserts congressional authority over the appropriations process far more effectively than yet another continuing resolution ever could. Many of our colleagues have not seen regular order in the appropriations process. And sadly, until the Senate is able to pass bills for us to conference together, I think we’ll be forced into relying on omnibuses in the future. But this is not a continuing resolution. And the Ryan-Murray agreement gives us the reasonable foundation for our work in fiscal year 2015. With that, I urge support of the rule and the underlying bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.
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