NORMAN — Congressman Tom Cole said he will not support any bill that would shut down the government.
After voting for a resolution passed by the House of Representatives on Friday that would defund the Affordable Care Act and stave off a government shutdown, Cole said this step was only the first in a long dance that could lead to economic prosperity.
“Our counterparts in the Senate have asked for this opportunity, and now we have given it to them,” he said.
The chances of the bill passing in the Democrat-led Senate are remote, and even if fortune shines on the legislation, it is almost sure to be vetoed by the president.
This was all taken into account while the bill was drafted, Cole said. The underlying goal of the document is to start a conversation that could lead to a delay in the Affordable Care Act’s implementation, but Cole said he and his colleagues are prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
“We expect this will get kicked back to the House, but maybe we can come up with something that delays this for another year,” he said. “I’m not naive. I don’t think this will be easy or quick. I consider this to be the opening volley in a long tennis match.”
Cole said the government is at the beginning of a 75-day period of long negotiations.
“We have the sequester still out there, and we all like the savings, but many of us don’t like the cuts,” he said. “There are several other things, like the Keystone Pipeline, we want to bring back into play, too.”
Cole called voting to shutdown the government to defund the Affordable Care Act a “suicidal political tactic” in a July interview with MSNBC.
Regardless of how the Senate votes, Cole said he will stick by his comments and never favor legislation that would shutdown the government or cause the U.S. to default on its loans.
The current bill funds the government through 2015 while financially crippling Affordable Care Act. Critics claim it holds the government hostage.
With only 11 days until a possible shutdown, Cole said there is plenty of time for Congress to come up with a plan that would keep the government in business.
“We have thousands of federal and military employees in our district,” Cole said. “The people who are arguing for shutting down the government to defund Obamacare are those who have never been in uniform.”
Cole admitted the GOP is severely polarized on how to handle Obamacare, with TEA Party-backed candidates advocating government shutdown.
“I certainly disagree with some of the tactics we’ve seen here, but I do not disagree with the overall goal,” he said.
Despite those tactics, Cole remains positive the seeds planted by Friday’s legislation will lead to fiscally conservative fruit.