'They Never Work': Oklahoma Representative Speaks On Impending Government Shutdown

Congressman Cole and the others say, like their hardline conservative colleagues, they are also eager to cut spending and understand how some could be so passionate about the issue, but they say forcing the government to shut down is not the way to do it.

Thursday, September 28th 2023, 5:26 pm



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Now just three days before the end of the federal fiscal year, the demands of a handful of ultra-conservative Republicans in the U.S. House, who are dead set on changing spending habits in Washington, have pushed Congress to the brink of yet another government shutdown.

Government shutdowns are certainly nothing new, there have been 14 since 1980 and three in the last ten years, meaning many in the Oklahoma delegation have down this road before, and they're not happy to be headed there again.

"I’ve been very opposed to government shutdowns," said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), who has sponsored bipartisan legislation for years to prevent shutdowns.

"That’s the last thing we need right now in the country," said Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) in a recent interview.

"I’ve seen these before," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4) "they never work."

Congressman Cole and the others say, like their hardline conservative colleagues, they are also eager to cut spending and understand how some could be so passionate about the issue, but they say forcing the government to shut down is not the way to do it.

"We've got some pretty stubborn people," said Rep. Cole in an interview Wednesday, "and from their standpoint, they say, 'Well, we’ve heard these things before', but most of them haven’t lived through a government shutdown before."

Cole has, and says, aside from inconveniencing a lot of people -- government workers and those in need of government services -- which is bad enough, it means holding back paychecks from our men and women in uniform.

"That’s just no way to treat the military, that’s no way to treat civilian work forces at places like Tinker (Air Force Base) and Fort Sill and the FAA," said Cole, referring to some of the federal installations in his district. "Honestly, what will happen at the end is we'll go back and do the backpay anyway, so you lose the work -- it’s actually expensive to shut down the government."

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is planning to put a short-term funding measure, a CR, with a border security rider on the floor likely Friday, although it's still not even clear if enough Republicans would vote to pass it. Cole says he'll vote for it. He says he'd even vote, perhaps grudgingly, for the CR the Senate is working on, if the alternative is government shutting down.

"I don’t know why we have to relearn this lesson," said an exasperated Cole, "this will be the fourth shutdown -- if it happens -- in 10 years and none of them will have achieved their objective."

Of those 14 shutdowns since 1980, most were very short, lasting just one, two or three days. But the last one, almost five years ago, lasted more than a month.

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