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Cole: “One of the most fundamental roles of Congress”

November 19, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) made remarks during consideration of the rule for a short-term measure to keep the government funded until December 20, 2019. Cole today supported the underlying continuing resolution that prevents a shutdown.

Cole’s remarks as delivered on the House floor below:

Mr. Speaker, we’re here on a bill that represents one of the most fundamental roles of the United States Congress, and that is to fund the government and to keep it open. This continuing resolution ensures critical government funding will remain in place through December 20. While short-term measures are never ideal, this extension of funding is necessary to ensure that the House and the Senate can continue to negotiate and reach agreement on full-year appropriations for fiscal year 2020.

As members of Congress, we are obligated each year to pass legislation that funds the government and keeps it open so that it can continue to provide services that many of our constituents are counting on. With today’s bill, we ensure that the government remains open until December 20, which will give Congress time to reach an agreement funding the entire government for the rest of the fiscal year. 

This continuing resolution not only maintains government funding, but it also rightly extends the authorizations for some key programs that otherwise would expire – programs like Community Health Centers, the Special Diabetes Program and the Special Diabetes Program for Native Americans. And we are also adding an adjustment to raise pay for members of the Armed Services by 3.1 percent.   

Even though it’s good news that we’re preventing a government shutdown with this continuing resolution – as my friend knows, I certainly plan to support it when it comes to the floor – today’s measure sadly represents a missed opportunity for the House of Representatives. The fact that we are here today on our second continuing resolution of this fiscal year is a reminder that Congress is not getting its work done and has not yet gotten its work done, at least when it comes to appropriations. 

Last year, despite the fact that we were in the midst of an election cycle, Congress still managed to get appropriations bills covering 80 percent of full-year spending passed into law by the start of the fiscal year. Today, by contrast, we have passed exactly zero appropriations bills into law, despite it being almost two months into the fiscal year. 

This state of affairs is disappointing. And while I recognize that this is certainly not entirely the fault of the House of Representatives, we still have yet to pass all 12 bills out of our own House. The job won’t get any closer to completion until we pass all 12 appropriations bills for this fiscal year. The American people deserve no less from us than our full attention on this pressing matter.

And again, I share my friend’s frustration at this process, but I’m actually somewhat optimistic that in the next 30 days, we can get that job done and get out of this cycle of continuing resolutions and actually have a fully functional government with 12 appropriations bills. Certainly, I intend to work to achieve that aim. I know my friend and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on the Appropriations Committee will do that. And I sincerely hope we can be successful.