Oklahoma lawmakers split on budget deal

Reps. James Lankford and Tom Cole say they'll support it, while Sen. Tom Coburn criticizes lack of attention to waste and fraud. Others withhold judgment.
by Chris Casteel Modified: December 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm •  Published: December 12, 2013

Oklahoma lawmakers mostly withheld judgment Wednesday on a budget accord to avert another government shutdown, though at least two are expected to vote for the agreement.

Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, will support the bill, according to his spokeswoman. Lankford said the bill would cut the deficit even more than the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester and protect Defense Department families from “another huge cut next year.”

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, who was part of the House negotiating team, also supports the legislation.

“Hardworking American families desperately want their government to stop budgeting by short-term, continuing resolutions or refusing to talk at all.

“When I remember the pain caused by the recent shutdown, I am encouraged that this conference was able to reach a deal that finds real savings, eases sequester and brings down the deficit.”

The deal will give the Defense Department about $22 billion more in the current fiscal year than was budgeted under the sequester; and it will get $9 billion more in 2015 than current law would allow.

>>Read: Bipartisan negotiators reach modest budget pact (Published Dec. 10, 2013)

The rest of the domestic agencies also will get increases. However, the increases are offset with savings elsewhere — including changes to the pensions of military retirees and future government employees — and higher fees for airline passengers.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, criticized the deal, saying it didn't eliminate any of the waste and fraud that has been identified by the Government Accountability Office.

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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