Finishing the House's war

by Tom Cole

Earlier this month, eight House Republicans joined with every House Democrat to oust the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, for the first time in American history. As I warned then, this disastrous move plunged the House, Republicans’ ability to function as a majority and the United States into chaos.

Now, not only are we less than 20 days from a critical government funding deadline, but major world events occurred during our turmoil including Hamas’ launch of the deadliest attack on Israel in 70 years and other Iran-backed terrorist groups attack on U.S. facilities in the Middle East. Now that the House has elected a Speaker, it is high time for this body to get back to work.

As you may recall, on September 30, hours before U.S. government funding was due to expire, the House passed and sent to the Senate a continuing resolution to continue government funding until November 17. The House has already passed four funding bills and continues to work to pass the remaining eight. While the goal should be to finish this before November 17 and come to an agreement with the Senate for full government funding for fiscal year 2024, a government shutdown is not an acceptable outcome, time is short, and it is possible the House will have to pass another continuing resolution to give us the time to conclude negotiations.

Next, as war breaks out in the Middle East and continues in Ukraine, the House must also swiftly pass support for Israel and Ukraine to continue to defend themselves in full force. While Putin’s unprovoked, relentless war on Ukraine continues, the U.S. must stand firmly on the side of order and freedom and against tyranny.

The U.S. also has a duty to stand with its loyal ally Israel as it defends itself against Hamas. The brutal attacks and barbaric slaughtering of innocent people, including women, children and babies, have no place in this world. Make no mistake, Hamas is a government-backed, trained and funded military terrorist organization, and it must not prevail.

Reauthorizing our country’s national defense, farm and aviation programs must also be completed. Defense, aviation and farm programs are critical to keep our nation safe, food on tables and our economy on the move. The House passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) earlier this year and we will expect the president and the Senate to work with us to conclude enactment of these bills, as well as the Farm Bill.

Finally, House Republicans must continue to press the Senate and president to pass policies to secure the southern border. This unprecedented humanitarian and national security crisis is affecting every community across the nation in some way.

Earlier this year, the House passed H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023, which would provide for the resources and direction necessary to secure the border including resuming border wall construction; giving border patrol agents necessary resources, equipment and manpower; reforming fraud and abuse in the asylum process; preventing catch and release practices and establishing new penalties for visa overstays.

The House also more recently passed H.R. 4367, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2024. Not only are our Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents and their resources stretched thin, making their job more difficult, but bad actors including drug and human traffickers, and even suspected terrorists, are taking advantage of President Biden’s unenforced border. This legislation addresses the border crisis by providing funding to secure our border, removing dangerous criminals and detainees unlawfully in our country and countering China’s role in the spread of fentanyl. House Republicans are committed to securing the southern border, and I was proud to support the passage of both bills to support a safer nation.

With only eight weeks left in the year, members of Congress certainly have our work cut out for us, but I remain committed to completing these critical measures. I look forward to the work ahead and working with our new Speaker, Mike Johnson. I applaud him for hitting the ground running on his first day – but there is certainly still much more to do.