Tom Cole

Tom Cole


Grateful Hearts


As we gather around the Thanksgiving table this week, we are reminded about the many things for which we are grateful as individuals, as families, as friends, as communities and as a nation. On Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season, we pause with grateful hearts, reflect upon our blessings and share them with one another. 

Even before we became the United States of America, the tradition of taking a special day to count our blessings has long been observed. While the idea originated with that first feast at Plymouth, in which the Pilgrims and Native Americans came together to give thanks for the harvest, Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday on October 3, 1789 by President George Washington. The presidential proclamation recommended a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” Those words reflected the outlook of the American people, and they are words still relevant and worth living by today. 

While much has changed since our nation’s beginnings, we remain grateful for the freedoms that our founding fathers risked their lives to secure and generations of other Americans have fought hard to preserve. More than 238 years since we became a nation, our freedoms are still unique, still worth fighting for and still deserving of our gratitude. Indeed, we are truly a blessed nation.

This week, as you’re planning your Thanksgiving feast, attending events to observe the day, giving back to the community, relaxing while watching football or just enjoying time with your precious loved ones, I hope you’ll join me in giving thanks.  

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Cole Statement on Resignation of Secretary Chuck Hagel


Washington, D.C. - Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after President Barack Obama announced the resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. 

“During his time in military combat, as a U.S. Senator and most recently as Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel has served our nation with distinction and honor,” said Cole. “As Secretary of Defense, serving at the Pentagon for nearly two years, he faced many challenges, including the implementation of deep cuts to our military in the midst of mounting crises overseas.  

"While it is unclear what prompted Secretary Hagel’s resignation today, I hope that the Administration carefully considers its strategy for confronting our enemies. Moreover, I urge the Administration to work with Congress to resolve the issue of the so called 'sequester' that is weakening our military and making the job of Secretary of Defense virtually impossible for even a person as dedicated and talented as Secretary Hagel to successfully perform. Without strong resolve and real leadership against terrorist groups, our ability to combat dangerous enemies like ISIL will only weaken.”


Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165

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Cole Statement on President’s Plan to Grant Executive Amnesty


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after President Barack Obama addressed the nation, announcing that he will grant executive amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants. 

“I am amazed that the president insists on going ahead with action that he has said, on multiple occasions, he would not and could not constitutionally take,” said Cole. “I am deeply disappointed that the president refuses to work with lawmakers who represent the beliefs of the American people. Without question, decisions on such controversial issues as immigration should be carried out by working together in a bipartisan manner, including the president seeking congressional oversight and approval. Instead, the president is unfortunately taking the go-it-alone approach and complicating the future of real immigration reform in the process. 

“The president should always seek to unite, rather than divide the American people. Especially with such a highly charged issue, the president is yet again missing the opportunity to work with lawmakers and show the country that government can function and find solutions to the challenges facing our country. By choosing not to work with Congress to actually solve the issue, the president has chosen to pit lawmakers and the Americans they represent against each other by taking this rash action. 

“In the days and months ahead, I hope that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will engage in discussion on the immigration issue, restore order to the legislative process and rein in White House overreach. When dealing with such complex and controversial issues, Americans should be able to rest assured that all branches of government are working together,” concluded Cole.


Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165

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Cole Appointed as Chairman of Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after he was appointed to serve as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. 

“I am honored to be appointed as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Education,” said Cole. “This subcommittee has vast jurisdiction, causing the decisions made there to be especially complex and at times even controversial. I am truly honored by the amount of trust that Chairman Rogers and the Republican Steering Committee have placed in me to help guide the decision-making process and find the best use of hardworking taxpayer dollars. As we enter the 114th Congress, I look forward to working with the talented committee staff, beginning the process of holding hearings and working with my colleagues to craft legislation that reflects the best interests of the American people.”

“With his sharp budgetary mind and fierce commitment to returning stability and regularity to the federal budget process, Tom Cole has long been an asset to the Committee. As he steps into his new role as Chairman of the Labor, Health, and Education Subcommittee, I know Tom will make the tough decisions needed to save taxpayer money, find efficiencies within the government, and fund these important programs responsibly," said Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers.

This subcommittee oversees funding for the Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Labor. Jurisdiction of the subcommittee also covers related agencies, including the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and Social Security Administration. For a full description of the subcommittee’s jurisdiction, click here


Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165

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Chairman Rogers Announces Subcommittee Chairs for the 114th Congress


Washington, D.C. – House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers today announced that the Republican Steering Committee has approved the 12 Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs (or “Cardinals”) for the 114th Congress. 

“Over the last four years, the Appropriations Committee has taken the lead in getting our budgets under control – cutting $165 billion in federal discretionary spending, one of the largest reductions in history. Even further, Appropriations bills that have been signed into law make a host of good-government changes to the way our federal agencies operate – reining in waste, abuse, and unnecessary bureaucratic over-regulation that harms our economy. 

“The 12 Appropriations Subcommittee Chairmen are essential to this success. They lead the way in overseeing our federal agencies, and guide spending decisions to make the most responsible and effective use of American tax dollars. Over the next two years, we will have some big challenges and a full plate of ‘to-dos’ ahead of us as we continue to fight for stability, continuity, and responsibility in the federal budget process. These excellent Subcommittee Cardinals will be a tremendous benefit to our efforts. I congratulate them and look forward to working with them in the 114th Congress,” Chairman Rogers said.

The subcommittee Chairs are as follows:

Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development – Chairman Robert Aderholt Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science – Chairman John Culberson Subcommittee on Defense – Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development – Chairman Mike Simpson Subcommittee on Financial Services – Chairman Ander Crenshaw Subcommittee on Homeland Security – Chairman John Carter Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment – Chairman Ken CalvertSubcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education – Chairman Tom Cole Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch – Chairman Tom Graves Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs – Chairman Charles Dent Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations – Chairwoman Kay Granger Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development – Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart


Link to original releaseContact: Jennifer Hing (202) 225-2771 (Appropriations)Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165 (Cole)

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Bloomberg: Republicans Shop Shutdown Alternatives in Immigration Fight


Bloomberg - Heidi Przybyla

House Republican leaders are trying to persuade members not to risk a U.S. government shutdown in responding to President Barack Obama’s plan to ease deportation of undocumented immigrants.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers has offered a plan that would keep the government operating after current funding expires Dec. 11. Rogers of Kentucky said he wants to finance the government for a full year, and retroactively cancel money in 2015 for any immigration action ordered by the president.

That would avoid a repeat of the 16-day partial government shutdown in October 2013 caused by a standoff over Republican insistence on using a government spending bill to defund Obama’s health-care law. Republicans’ public approval plunged.

House Speaker John Boehner said at a news conference today that canceling appropriated funds is one possibility. “There are a lot of options we’re considering,” he said. “There are a lot of good ideas out there.”

A Boehner ally, Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, said many members “understand what was done in October of last year is not the appropriate way going forward.” Court challenges also are a possibility, he said.

“The conference is trying to be a lot more thoughtful,” Cole said. “Our aim is to shut down what the president is doing, not to shut down the government.”

Executive Orders Obama has said he will use executive action to revise immigration policy by the end of the year unless Congress advances legislation. That could include halting deportation of the parents of children brought to the U.S. illegally. The action could be broader, covering many of the 11 million people included in a bill passed by the Democratic-led Senate last year.

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, declined to say when Obama will take action. Asked about potentially shutting down the government, Earnest said “it’s certainly not unprecedented rhetoric from Republicans, unfortunately.”

A number of House and Senate Republicans say they want to deny the federal funds needed to issue work permits and residency cards to undocumented immigrants. Congress must pass new funding legislation next month or risk a shutdown.

House Republicans’ chief vote-counter, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, has been meeting with conservatives to identify alternatives, said an aide who sought anonymity to describe the private talks.

Republican Bridge As former head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, Scalise can serve as a bridge between leadership and Tea Party-backed members looking for a way to block the president.

“There are a variety of different tools,” said Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, an RSC member.

Another option is writing a full-year appropriations bill for most of the government and a temporary spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies that handle immigration tasks.

Next year Congress could add defunding language to those agencies’ spending bills, recognizing that a presidential veto would affect only them.

Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, also an RSC member, said he is open to alternatives, as did Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Republican who has frequently split with her party’s leaders. She is retiring after this session.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said Obama shouldn’t delay action on immigration any longer.

“I’m tired of hearing the House of Representatives” say “give us more time, give us more time,” Reid said in an interview with Univision. “I think it should be done now.”

Online: Bloomberg

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New York Times: Some Republicans Lean Away From Government Shutdown Tactic


New York Times - Ashley Parker

Americans For Prosperity — the group founded by the billionaire Koch brothers — has met quietly with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill in recent weeks, cautioning them against fighting the president’s promised executive order on immigration with a strategy that could lead to a government shutdown.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey echoed that sentiment on Monday in a private meeting of newly elected House members.

And on Tuesday, House Republicans emerged from a closed meeting coalescing around two plans that would help fight an expected executive order on immigration from President Obama without fully shutting down the government.

“We went down the government shutdown route a year ago. It didn’t work, and I think a lot of people that recall that don’t think it’s wise to repeat that exercise,” said Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma. “We’ve got a lot more than just a sledgehammer in the toolbox, and so let’s use some of these other weapons that we have.”

One option floated by Representative Harold Rogers, Republican of Kentucky and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, calls for passing his committee’s broad spending bill by the Dec. 11 deadline, and then rescinding just the funding for Mr. Obama’s executive action.

The other option, proposed by Republican Representative Tom Price of Georgia, calls for passing most of the broad spending bill — but taking out just those funding programs specifically related to the Mr. Obama’s planned immigration action, and fighting the president with a short-term stand-alone measure for those particular funds.

Mr. Obama could announce as soon as this week an executive order that would allow up to five million unauthorized immigrants to remain in the country and work without fear of deportation.

“We want the government fully funded, but that particular area needs to be defunded,” said Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota. “We don’t want a government shutdown at all, but we’re going to super-scalpel on that area where the president is acting illegally.”

Representative Matt Salmon, Republican of Arizona, said that House Republicans were considering a range of options, but that they did not plan to shut down the government, while still promising to fight the president on immigration.

“Everything is on the table and the speaker has committed that we’re going to come up with a plan that does not allow the president to have the funding to do this,” Mr. Salmon said.

Earlier, Mr. Rogers had called on colleagues in an opinion article to pass his committee’s spending bill “in a responsible, transparent and pragmatic way, without the specter of government shutdowns or the lurching, wasteful and unproductive budgeting caused by temporary stopgap measures.”

Their collective voice carried an unmistakable message for the more conservative Republicans in Congress: Shutting down the government would be a terrible way for the party to start its time in power.

In floor speeches, opinion articles, public statements and private meetings, Republicans have urged their more conservative colleagues to allow the broad spending bill to pass before the deadline.

Americans For Prosperity’s basic pitch to Republicans is: Do not let the president’s immigration stance derail you from your ambitious governing agenda. For those who want to fight Mr. Obama on immigration, the group counsels, the best opportunity will come in the next Congress — when Republicans will control both chambers — through the so-called “regular order” process of committee deliberation and full debate on the floor.

“It is important for the new Republican majority to stay focused on crucial priorities like rolling back Obamacare, passing the Keystone pipeline and other energy initiatives, and passing a free market budget,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity. “That means not overreacting to executive orders by the president.”

The 16-day government shutdown in 2013 over the Affordable Care Act badly damaged the Republicans’ standing, and many party elders and strategists want to avoid a repeat.

In his op-ed article in Roll Call, Mr. Rogers said Republicans had a mandate “to work together, to govern, to stop the punting and procrastinating, and to make the tough decisions and cast the hard votes to accomplish the tasks they sent us to Washington to do. Completing our lingering appropriations work quickly will help us fulfill this mandate both now and in the months to come.”

Ryan Zinke, an incoming Republican representative from Montana, said that among the messages delivered by Governor Christie was “not shutting the government down.”

And speaking on the Senate floor on Monday, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said he had been having “productive, bipartisan conversations” with Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, about passing the spending bill.

“It’s clear to me that Republican leaders want to work together to keep the government funded,” Mr. Reid said. “I hope Republicans in Congress will reject this brinkmanship. A scorched earth policy is no way to govern. Instead, responsible leaders within the Republican Party need to work with Democrats to complete the business of funding our government, regardless of when the president acts to keep families together.”

Some Republicans, however, including Mr. Boehner, have left the possibility of a shutdown on the table. Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, an outspoken opponent of an immigration overhaul, is readying legislation to undo whatever action the president takes, as well as to undo the protected status the president has already provided to the young undocumented immigrants brought here as children.

“I’d like to find a way we can keep as much of the government operating as possible, but there’s no way that this Congress should go forward with any appropriations that goes into any department that reacts to the command of the president when he commands that they violate the law or the Constitution,” Mr. King said last week. “So that means that we can’t fund the branches of government that would be executing his lawless unconstitutional act, should he commit it.”

Even Republicans who have been outspoken critics of what they view as “executive amnesty” — as well as what they say is the president’s general overstepping of his constitutional authority — said that a government shutdown was not a savvy move for the party.

“I’m just unalterably opposed to another government shutdown. I’m not going to do that to my state, and I will do everything in my power to see that we don’t shut down the government,” said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. “There are lots of ways we can respond, including going to court, including Appropriations bills, including the Budget Act. There are lots of the things we can do. Shutting down the government should not be one of the options.”

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona — one of four Republicans, along with Mr. McCain, who worked to produce a bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate last year — said he shared Mr. McCain’s goal. He said he had been giving simple counsel to colleagues behind the scenes: “Don’t shut the government down.”

Online: New York Times

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Oklahoma Celebrates Statehood


On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma became the 46th state in the union. Our existence as a part of this great nation spans over a century, and our heritage is rich. Indeed, we are proud to call Oklahoma our home.

As we celebrate the anniversary of our statehood this month, we are reminded that our nation is an ideological mosaic comprised of a variety of opinions and beliefs. While we are united in our identity as Americans, we are also a collection of individual states with understandable pride in our regional heritages, opinions and values. 

It’s often that these ideals found in our state and local communities shape us, make us who we are and keep us grounded. Our communities play a major role informing our opinions and determining what matters to us. For those of us who call Oklahoma home, it is important to remember that our values and morals aren't always held by those Americans who call different parts of the nation their home.

Throughout my service in the U.S. House of Representatives, I have always endeavored to represent the values and opinions of my fellow Sooners. But I have also tried to understand and respect the viewpoints of my colleagues who represent vastly different parts of America. While the federal government has its place in our system of government, each state also plays a unique role in government, and that constitutional power should be protected.

In order to encourage the proper balance of power between the state and federal governments, our founders drafted and passed as part of the Bill of Rights the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Through this amendment, it was agreed that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” By allowing states to govern themselves as much as possible, our founders knew this would encourage greater efficiency in government and discourage federal overreach.

Like those I represent in the U.S. House of Representatives and others across our great state, I will always be proud to be from Oklahoma. I am also pleased that our founders established a system that allows us to be not only proud Americans, but uniquely Oklahomans.

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Cole Statement on Legislation to Approve Keystone


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 5682, To Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“I am pleased that the House once again acted where the president will not,” said Cole. “After more than six years since Keystone first submitted its permit approval application, it’s high time for the Administration to make a decision either way. Rather than needlessly bury the request in unnecessary environmental studies and inaction, the president should acknowledge the value of Keystone to our economy. In addition to lessening the country's dependence on foreign oil, the American people are ready and waiting to feel the benefit of Keystone through the thousands of jobs the construction project will create.”  


Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165

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Oklahoma Native to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom


Washington, D.C. - Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after it was announced that Dr. Suzan Harjo will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this month. A native of Oklahoma, Harjo is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes and has long advocated for Native Americans, including as the Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians and currently as the President of the Morning Star Institute. 

“I am very pleased to hear that Dr. Suzan Harjo will be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” said Cole. “In the tradition of Wilma Mankiller, who received this same honor, Dr. Harjo has been a lifelong advocate for Native American rights and tribal sovereignty. As an author, poet, scholar and activist, she has tirelessly championed causes associated with Native Americans and has been instrumental in the passage of key legislation. This recognition of her decades of work and commitment brings honor not only to Dr. Harjo, but to her native state of Oklahoma as well.”


Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165

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Contact Information

2458 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-6165
Fax 202-225-3512

Committee Assignments




Tom Cole became the Representative for Oklahoma’s Fourth Congressional District on November 6th, 2002. During his tenure in the House Cole has established himself as a strong voice for the conservative views and values of the Fourth District. He is an advocate for a strong national defense, a defender of the interests of small business and taxpayers, a proponent of education at all levels and a leader on issues dealing with Native Americans and tribal governments. Cole was named as one of “Five Freshmen to Watch” by Roll Call at the outset of his congressional career.

Congressman Cole is a member on the House Armed Services Committee to which he was appointed in 2002 He also serves on the Natural Resources Committee. Cole serves as a Deputy Whip in the U.S. House. In this role he helps line up the votes needed to pass the legislative agenda of the President and the House Republican Conference. Cole also serves as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, making him a member of the House GOP Leadership.

Cole has a significant background of service to his home state of Oklahoma. He has served as a District Director for former Congressman Mickey Edwards, a member of the Oklahoma State Senate, and as Oklahoma’s Secretary of State. In this capacity he served as former Governor Frank Keating’s chief legislative strategist and liaison to the state’s federal delegation. Keating tapped Cole to lead Oklahoma’s successful effort to secure federal funds to assist in the rebuilding of Oklahoma City in the wake of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19th, 1995.

Cole is a founding partner and past president of CHS & Associates, a nationally recognized consulting and survey research firm based in Oklahoma City. The firm has been named one of the top twenty in its field in America and has literally dozens of past and current clients scattered across the country.

A former college instructor in history and politics, Cole holds a B.A. from Grinnell College, an M.A. from Yale University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Cole has been a Thomas Watson Fellow and a Fulbright Fellow at the University of London. He currently serves on the national Board of the Fulbright Association. He also serves on the board of the Aspen Institute.

Tom Cole is a fifth generation Oklahoman and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation. He is currently the only Native American serving in Congress He was awarded the Congressional Leadership award by the National Congress of American Indians and was inducted in the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004. Cole’s late mother, Helen, is also a member of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame and served as a state representative, state senator and Mayor of Moore in her native state of Oklahoma. Cole’s late father, John, served twenty years in the United States Air Force and worked an additional two decades as a civilian federal employee at Tinker Air Force Base. Tom and his wife Ellen, have one son, Mason, and reside in Moore, Oklahoma.

Serving With

Jim Bridenstine


Markwayne Mullin


Frank Lucas


James Lankford


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