Work left to be done

by Tom Cole

The activity during the first session of the 117th Congress last year was unfortunately marked by partisanship and political games. Controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House, Democrats focused primarily on advancing radical and expensive policy items, irresponsibly neglecting to complete basic functions of Congress or to address actual challenges facing the American people. Indeed, going into the second session this year, there is still much work to be done. However, it can only be accomplished through bipartisan and bicameral coopåeration.

Because Democrats have been so focused on peddling their multi-trillion-dollar big government wish lists, Congress has still yet to complete its most fundamental job of passing the 12 annual appropriations bills that provide full-year government funding for fiscal year 2022. Since the previous fiscal year began on October 1, the government has instead been funded by two short-term continuing resolutions – the current one lasting until February 18. In the days and weeks ahead, I remain hopeful that lawmakers can come to agreement and fulfil this critical function.

However, a lot must change in terms of the approach taken by Democrats. First, the funding levels as proposed are unacceptable, with too much going toward domestic and too little toward our national defense. Before anything can reach the president’s desk, defense spending must go up and domestic must come down. Moreover, in order for there to be bipartisan support for annual funding, the longstanding Hyde and Weldon amendments, which protect the conscious rights of millions of Americans opposed to taxpayer-funded abortions, must be restored.

Indeed, both parties have proven they can work together on and pass significant and bipartisan legislation. Remember, Congress managed to pass five bipartisan coronavirus relief bills in 2020. And in recent weeks, lawmakers advanced and President Joe Biden signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2022, which demonstrates what can be achieved with commonsense cooperation. However, although the NDAA authorizes more funding and resources than outlined in President Biden’s budget and in current versions of the defense appropriations bill, Congress must act to actually deliver the funding resources our military needs.

Finally, Congress must get to work on solutions to address the numerous crises Americans face – including 39-year-high inflation, labor and supply chain shortages, a growing fentanyl crisis, an open border and unfolding dangers and threats around the world. The last thing the American people need right now is big government, high-tax legislation that would not only further increase prices on nearly every good, but also leave less money in the pockets of hardworking families. Congress must devote time to legislation that will actually get Americans back to work, restore our economy, secure the border and ensure our military is ready to face any of our dangerous adversaries around the globe.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and across the Capitol must work together to solve these crises and provide the critical and adequate full-year government funding. Although 2021 was unfortunately primarily marked by unsuccessful legislating from one side of the aisle, 2022 presents an opportunity for Democrats to change that and work with Republicans to get things that matter done for the American people. And I urge my Democratic colleagues to do just that.

United for Oklahoma - September
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