Tags: tom cole | gop | learning | governing | party

Rep. Tom Cole: GOP Still Learning 'How to Be a Governing Party'

MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

By    |   Monday, 27 Mar 2017 12:13 PM

Republicans have been "a terrific opposition party," Rep. Tom Cole said Monday, but he agrees with House Speaker Paul Ryan that the party is still learning "how to be a governing party."

"We're not there yet," the Oklahoma Republican said in an MSNBC "Morning Joe" interview, pointing to the failure of the American Health Care Act to come to the House floor.

"On Wednesday or Thursday, it still had momentum," said Cole. "Once we kept bargaining to the right, we literally started losing people on the left. You can't push an instrument beyond what's it's capable of doing. In this case, we're capable of being a terrific opposition party, but we're still learning, as the speaker said, how to be a governing party."

The number one lesson to becoming a governing party, he said, is that "humility is the beginning of wisdom."

Republicans also need to focus on what needs to be done, said Cole.

"We haven't finished the 2017 appropriations bill," he said. "We're halfway through the 17-18 fiscal year. We have to get that done. We have to think about things like getting a realistic budget done. Doing a debt ceiling vote. It will have to be bipartisan. And start on tax reform."

Meanwhile, the nation's healthcare system has been "frozen" since Obamacare passed seven years go, and there have not been any substantive proposals from either side to fix it, Cole said.

"The president has a point," he said. "I think [House Speaker] Paul Ryan does. This thing, in my state, is collapsing. We're down to a single insurer and rates go up 69 percent next year. To me, that's not success."

President Donald Trump wanted to repeal and replace Obamacare, but a repeal alone would have taken a long transition time, Cole continued.

"You have to write the legislation, and quite frankly, the legislation, to pass, would have had to have been bipartisan," he said. The idea of repeal alone, which the Freedom Caucus wanted "wasn't a very likely outcome."

Cole said he regrets that the American Health Care Act was pulled from the floor before the House had a chance to vote on it.

"I think you're paid to vote around here," said Cole. "We ought to put the votes on the board and let everybody see where they're at."

Also on Monday, Cole said he disagreed with cuts planned for the National Institutes of Health in President Donald Trump's proposed budget, saying they run counter to the House's 2017 budget.

"Two years ago we had the largest increase in funding at the NIH in a dozen years," said Cole. "If we pass the 2017 budget, which we should do, we'll have a comparable increase under the Republican House and Senate ... we have to sit down and do this without increasing spending. You have to make tough decisions elsewhere in the budget which we did in 2016 and prepared to do again for the budget and we should do it for '18."

Trump is right in his broad priorities for the budget by calling for increases in military spending, though, said Cole.

"We need to increase spending on defense ... in a responsible way," said Cole. "To do that, you have to open up the entire budget to offsetting cuts, not just the nondefense discretionary [spending] you have to look at entitlements. [Former] President [Barack] Obama offered two entitlement reforms in 2014."

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Republicans have been capable of "being a terrific opposition party," Rep. Tom Cole said Monday, but he agrees with House Speaker Paul Ryan that the party is still learning "how to be a governing party."
tom cole, gop, learning, governing, party
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2017-13-27
Monday, 27 Mar 2017 12:13 PM
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