By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, will be one of four House Republicans to engage in budget negotiations between the House and Senate with the goal of producing a resolution by Dec. 13, according to a press release issued by Cole’s office on Friday.
Cole was appointed by Speaker John Boehner and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan to serve on a 29-person conference committee, comprised of seven House Members and 22 Senators. If successful, this compromise would be the first time since 2009 that both chambers have agreed on a budget.
“As we begin budget negotiations, I am hopeful that we can find common-sense reforms that improve our economic outlook and provide a better future for our children and grandchildren,” Cole said in the press release. “I am pleased to bring the conservative values of Oklahomans to the table as we enter this critical time.”
Cole will be back in Oklahoma on Monday and has scheduled a number of meetings to address questions about the ongoing negotiations on Capitol Hill.
Oklahoma has five military installations, but civilian jobs at Tinker and other bases weren’t the only ways the state was affected. In Norman, the National Oceanic and Atmoospheric Administration space within the National Weather Center was closed during the shutdown. While NWS forecasters remained on duty because their jobs deal with severe weather safety, NOAA public affairs reported that many of its employees were furloughed.
Also affected was the Chickasaw National Recreation Center — one of 401 national parks closed during the shutdown, as was the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum . The museum is dedicated to the memory of those who were killed in the April 19, 1995 bombing. Passports were delayed, and many other federal offices were closed as well.
“The University of Oklahoma does not take a position as an institution on political issues, but speaking as a private citizen and former U.S. Senator, I commend the Congressman from the 4th District, Tom Cole, for his courageous and responsible vote to reopen the government and to continue to pay our national debt,” OU President David Boren said after the end of the shutdown.
“I am very pleased by the fact that Congress has taken action to reopen the government and to avoid a default on the national debt,” Boren said. “A default on the national debt has the potential to have extremely damaging effects on the economy of the United States and the global economy as well. It has been estimated that the growth rate of the American economy has already been slowed by more than 20 percent during this financial quarter by the government shutdown.”
During a town hall meeting at the Weather Center in August, Cole had warned that September, October and November would be contentious on Capitol Hill. In an op-ed published in the Transcript in early October, he said a “shutdown is harmful to hard-working Americans, and using it as a strategy to repeal Obamcare is sure to fail,” as long as Obama is in the White House.
Immediately following the reopening, Cole expressed hope that “both chambers on both sides of the aisle” had learned from the shutdown.
“Americans want solutions that reduce the deficit, overhaul the current tax system, create more jobs, spur economic growth and preserve the full faith and credit of the United States,” Cole said on Friday. “These are goals shared by my fellow Republicans and my constituents back home. In the coming days, I am ready to work with my Democrat colleagues as we attempt to find common ground for the sake of the entire nation.”
Cole said he is committed to finding solutions and believes dialogue is key.
“After the pain caused by government shutdown and the uncertainty triggered by the expiring debt ceiling, we know now more than ever that we have to talk to each other,” Cole said. “While conference negotiations will be intense and tough, it is critical that we find common ground to avoid any repeats of what we experienced during shutdown.”