Rep. Tom Cole on Budget Deal: 'There's Plenty of Reasons for People Not to Like It'

By Susan Jones | October 27, 2015 | 10:00am EDT
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) sits on both the Budget and Appropriations Committees. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - House Republican leaders have reached a two-year budget deal with the White House that includes another increase in the nation's borrowing limit, and while there's "plenty of reasons for people not to like it," no alternative is likely to pass, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of both the Budget and Appropriations Committees, said on Monday.

"Nobody's going to be 100 percent happy with this thing," Cole told CSPAN's "Washington Journal" on Monday.  "But you have to look at it in terms of what the consequences are if it doesn't pass. And do you really want financial disruptions on default, and do you really want massive cuts in the American military? I think the answer to both those questions is no."

The budget deal reportedly would increase federal spending by $80 billion over two years and increase the federal borrowing limit through March 2017.

The Washington Post reported the spending increases -- $50 billion the first year, and $30 billion the second year -- would be divided equally between defense and domestic programs.

"And...is this additional spending paid for?" Cole asked. "Yeah, it is," he said. Cole admitted there will be "plenty of people," particularly conservatives, who don't like the pay-fors. "But," Cole added, "I think they spread the sacrifice, frankly, fairly evenly across the board, so that no one group can say we were particularly singled out."

Cole admitted it will be "quite a lift" to sell the budget deal to his fellow Republicans.

"I think there will be a lot of resistance to this. Again, I would think the more conservative elements will very strongly oppose it, and I've already read some of the things they've said in this morning's papers."

Cole said he learned the "broad outlines" of the deal, negotiated secretly, when the Republican conference met last night.

"So it's pretty easy to see where the fault lines are. But I do think it's possible to get a majority of Republicans. I think that will be a lift. I'd say we're pretty certain to have 70 to 90 to start off with. You'd like to grow that, if you will, up to 140 or 150.

"And then I think the same thing will happen on Democratic side," although he indicated Democrats will be more likely to support the deal.

However, Cole also said he anticipates "heartburn" among Democrats over changes in the Social Security Disability system and extending the cuts for Medicare providers, both items intended to help pay for the bill.

"So again, there's plenty of reasons for people not to like it. I would ask them, give me the alternative that you can actually get passed -- that a Republican House will pass, that a closely divided Senate -- where the Democrats control the filibuster -- will get passed and that a liberal president of the United States will get passed.

"If you've got that kind of arrangement in a system of checks and balances, everybody's going to have to give something up. Nobody can force what they would consider the ideal solution on the other party, and that's been the case around here for about five or six years."

According to the Associated Press, retiring House Speaker John Boehner wants Republicans to pass the budget before Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) assumes the Speaker's job on Thursday, as anticipated.

The AP also reported that Boehner "encountered immediate resistance when he laid out the plan Monday night." He reportedly wants members to vote on it Wednesday.

It looks like he'll get more Democrat votes than Republican: On Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted, "Bipartisan budget package represents real progress. We look forward to working toward passage this week."

But there is grumbling among conservatives:

"This is again just the umpteenth time that you have this big, big, huge deal that'll last for two years and we were told nothing about it," the AP quoted Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana as saying.

"I'm not excited about it at all," said Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz. "A two-year budget deal that raises the debt ceiling for basically the entire term of this presidency."

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