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Rep. Tom Cole, R-Norman, optimistic a budget deal will be struck

The Moore Republican says a deal could go a long way toward restoring a sense of order in Congress and foster goodwill among lawmakers.
by Chris Casteel Published: December 7, 2013

Cole, whose district includes Tinker Air Force Base and Fort Sill, said he has some concerns about requiring federal workers to pay more into their pension plans and doesn't know whether pension changes would make the final deal.

Democrats would likely resist major changes to federal employee benefits, and Cole said any budget deal will require Democratic votes to make up for the House Republicans who will vote against it.

In recent days, some Democrats have said a deal should include an extension of unemployment benefits that are set to expire this month.

“They're not getting extended without getting paid for,'' Cole said. “What would be the offset?”

Extending the benefits would cost an estimated $25 billion and paying for it would require finding savings elsewhere in the budget or raising revenue.

Cole is rooting for a deal in part so Congress can get back to its normal budget work.

It has been four years, he said, since both houses of Congress have passed a budget.

Restoring the “normal rhythms” of the budget and spending process could also restore some trust and good will among lawmakers who need to work together on the “small things” before they can tackle major issues such as immigration reform, Cole said.

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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