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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Summer Accomplishments

June 25, 2018
Weekly Columns
It has been quite a busy week in Washington, D.C., and despite the fervor and fireworks on Capitol Hill, Congress has accomplished a number of legislative items amongst the debate on immigration. Although that debate is still occurring, some of the fundamental work that Congress is obligated to complete has progressed. Each year, Congress is required by law to produce and present a budget that responsibly spends outlines federal spending. However, Congress has been faced with the challenge on how to control and reform excessive spending. For Fiscal Year 2019, the House Budget Committee has produced a budget that will build for a “Brighter American Future” and address responsible spending practices.
House Republicans are well aware that our federal spending is out of control, and Congress needs to act to reign in excessive spending. The national debt is growing exponentially. The Republican budget for Fiscal Year 2019, named “A Brighter American Future,” will balance the federal budget in nine years. Through reforms and savings to government programs, the budget will balance in Fiscal Year 2027 with an estimated surplus of $26 billion, and $142 billion in Fiscal Year 2028, and also achieves an $8.1 trillion deficit reduction over ten years.
The most prominent contributor to our national debt is mandatory spending programs, which take up over about two-thirds of federal spending. This includes entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare and also includes interest on the national debt. Currently, these programs, like Social Security and Medicare, are predicted to become insolvent within the next 15 years. This budget tackles the threat of mandatory spending issues by using the tool of reconciliation instructions for 11 the authorizing House committees to find at least $302 billion in deficit reduction.
After mandatory spending, the budget consists of discretionary spending, which includes funding for defense and non-defense federal spending. The Fiscal Year 2019 budget is consistent with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which sets the topline levels of spending for discretionary portions. These topline levels are set at $647 billion for defense and $597 for non-defense for Fiscal Year 2019. This allows for the U.S. to build a robust defense and provides ample support for domestic spending priorities. It is important to note that both defense and non-defense discretionary spending are lower than they were in 2010.
In addition to passing a good budget out of committee, the House is projected to move forward with the appropriations process this summer. While the budget outlays the framework for the federal wallet, the Appropriations Committee allocates that money for the federal government and its programs. So far, the Appropriations Committee has passed 11 out of the 12 appropriations bills out of full committee. This week, or in early July, the committee will visit the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies subcommittee bill, of which I oversee. When that bill pass out of full committee, the House will be expected to vote on all 12 measures, which will move the appropriations process forward in a timely manner, avoiding threats like government shutdowns.
Passing the budget and appropriations bills out of committee are major accomplishments, and I was proud to support both during their respective committee consideration. Although Congress’ agenda is full and there is much work to be done, our fundamental commitments cannot waver. I look forward to working with my colleagues this year in reforming our government spending, continuing our promise to fund the government responsibly, and putting forth legislative items that will support all Americans in the long run.