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Rep. Tom Cole: Government shutdown "unwise" and will ultimately fail

by Chris Casteel Published: September 23, 2013

In a column today, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, says shutting down the government would be unwise and end in failure. Cole voted for the spending bill last week that would fund all government except Obamacare. The Senate is expected to strip out the language regarding Obamacare and it will then be up to House Republicans to decide whether to pass a spending bill that keeps the government open, while funding Obamacare.
Federal agencies run out of money on Sept. 30 and will need some kind of action from Congress to stay open on Oct. 1.

Here is Cole’s column:

Few Americans support Obamacare, and its continued existence is a burdensome reality that has inspired numerous Republican efforts to dismantle the law. Most recently, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution that keeps the government running but prohibits any funding for further implementation of Obamacare.

Since the passage of Obamacare, I have voted for every measure ever put before the House to repeal, delay or alter the law partially or completely, and I will continue to do so. Along with House Republicans, I have continually voiced my opposition. Currently, the House has voted 41 times to repeal the flawed law, and seven of the partial-repeal bills have been signed into law by the president, saving taxpayers $62 billion. I am still confident that we can find similar victories in the coming months, and I will certainly continue to do everything feasible in the House to combat the implementation of Obamacare.

Unfortunately, as long as Democrats control the U.S. Senate and Obama is the president, any measures to deny funding it are unlikely to be signed into law. If the Senate passes a version of a continuing resolution that does not defund Obamacare and the House digs in their heels, it could result in a government shutdown and adversely affect millions of hardworking Americans.

Government shutdown is not the answer; it is a faulty, irresponsible strategy that will have grave consequences if not averted. Such consequences can be found by looking back to the partial government shutdown of 1996 under the Clinton Administration. Upon the expiration of a continuing resolution (CR), President Clinton vetoed a new CR plan submitted by Congress, forcing the government to shut down for five days. During that time, approximately 800,000 federal workers were furloughed. Just a few weeks after that short-term compromise, another shutdown occurred, but this time it lasted a needless 21 days. This led to furlough of 284,000 federal employees while an additional 475,000 exempted federals employees were still required to report to work without pay.

If our government is forced into a shutdown again, our already struggling economy will be weakened due to lost jobs, but not just those held by federal employees. Shutting down the government hurts every American family and individual. Because of delayed federal permits for construction, infrastructure and development projects, many potential and current jobs will be lost. Domestic energy production and growth will be stunted due to permitting, planning and exploration delays. New loans made available by the Small Business Administration will be frozen, preventing many local small businesses from starting up or expanding.

Perhaps the greatest concern is the effect that a shutdown will have on our national security, including our presence abroad and our perceived strength to the rest of the world. Our national security efforts will be at risk because of weakened counterterrorism efforts, aviation security and cyber security. Depending on how long the shutdown lasts, it could put a target on our back as a nation and inhibit our presence at key national security posts, especially in the Middle East. It will hurt the effectiveness of Border Patrol and could lead to more undocumented individuals.

If the government shuts down, our soldiers who volunteered to defend our country won’t receive their salaries, which puts an unnecessary, added strain on military spouses and children (especially if their loved one is deployed). Similarly, our veterans who have honorably served and protected our freedoms won’t receive their well-deserved and hard-earned benefits. Jeopardizing the lives of those who have devoted and sacrificed their lives to protect our country is unacceptable.

Closer to home, areas still recovering from recent disasters, including Oklahoma tornados (particularly in Moore) and Hurricane Sandy, will not receive necessary relief funding. The same is true of federal fire fighters combating wild fires throughout the west.

While I agree with the goal of defunding and eliminating Obamacare, I will not vote for a government shutdown because it will be catastrophic for our economy, troops and veterans, national security and numerous other government-funded organizations and employees.

As of Friday, House Republicans have voted 41 times to either defund or repeal Obamacare. Unfortunately, we are still waiting on the Senate to join us in taking real action. In the meantime, I will continue to look for strategic ways to lessen the blow. But I will certainly not support tactics that sacrifice the livelihood of millions of Americans to do so. It is unwise, creates false hope and will only end in failure.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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