Tom Cole

Tom Cole


Cole Statement on Chickasaw and Choctaw Trust Settlement


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, praised an announcement made today by the Department of Interior along with the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations. Under the $186 million total settlement to resolve trust claims, the Chickasaw Nation will receive $46.5 million and the Choctaw Nation will receive $139.5 million.  

“Without question, this is a significant announcement for Indian Country and one for which Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby, Choctaw Nation Principal Chief Gary Batton and former Principal Chief Gregory Pyle should be proud,” said Cole. “Not only does the historic trust settlement further repair what has long been a broken relationship between all of Indian Country and the federal government, but it serves as a beacon of hope for other tribes across the nation that have suffered similar neglect at the hands of the federal government. It is certainly a day for celebration and one that would not be possible without the steadfast commitment of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who has tirelessly worked with tribal nations and their leaders to acknowledge and fulfill the broken promises of the past.” 

For more details about the terms of the settlement, click here.  


Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165

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Oklahoman: A heart for advocacy: Oklahoma heart attack survivor shares her story with national audience


The Oklahoman - Sharla Bardin

Amanda Rowell is on a mission to motivate people to become heart smart.

She takes any opportunity to share her story about how, at age 32, she had a heart attack a few days after giving birth to her daughter.

The Norman resident said she is grateful to be alive and wants to encourage other women to know their risk factors and symptoms and equip themselves with information about preventing heart disease.

“Maybe I can reach one person,” she said.

Rowell, who volunteers with the American Heart Association, got the chance last month to share her story on a national stage and to urge lawmakers to support funding for medical research.

Rowell, now 35, traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual Rally for Medical Research on Sept. 16-17.

The rally, organized by the American Association for Cancer Research, involved representatives from more than 300 national organizations and institutions who gathered to appeal to Congress to invest in the National Institutes of Health, the largest source of funding for medical research in the world.

Representatives urged lawmakers to make funding for the NIH a national priority and to raise awareness about how important it is to continue investing in medical research.

Making connections

Officials with the American Heart Association said Rowell was invited because of her volunteer work with the association and the passion she has for educating people about heart disease.

Rowell visited the offices of U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City.

Rowell said she appreciated the chance to talk with lawmakers about the need for continued funding for medical research and how research can save lives.

She also was grateful to meet other survivors of heart disease and strokes and to hear about their experiences. She said she was impressed by the positive attitude and camaraderie among the group.

“It just brought us all so close,” she said.

Naomi Amaha-Gollnick, senior director of state policy initiatives with the American Heart Association, said Rowell's visit went “extremely well” with officials, and her willingness to share her personal experience can further emphasize to lawmakers “why research for heart disease is so important.”

Grateful for each day

Her outlook on life is to “live each day to its fullest,” said Rowell, who has congestive heart failure and has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator in her chest.

“I do not go a day without telling my family I love them, and I spend as much quality time with them as I can get,” she said.

It's a perspective she gained after facing death after the birth of her daughter, Paisley, in 2012.

During her pregnancy, Rowell was concerned about constant heartburn. She was told that was a normal pregnancy symptom or that she was experiencing acid reflux. The heartburn continued, and she felt sharp pains down both arms and a weakness in her hands.

When she was 37 weeks pregnant, she had an emergency cesarean section to deliver Paisley, because of other health complications.

Her heartburn persisted after the delivery, but she was told it was likely gas bubbles resulting from the surgery, which is a normal side effect, she said.

She was discharged two days later, but her condition got worse at home. Rowell was coughing and sweating heavily and couldn't catch her breath. The family then packed up, still wearing pajamas, and headed to the emergency room.

Rowell had suffered a heart attack and was given a 5 percent chance of survival.

“Everyone was prepping for the worst,” she said.

Three weeks later, Rowell had triple bypass surgery. Six months later, she had surgery to implant the defibrillator.

Rowell said she did not think she would survive. She wrote goodbye letters to her daughter, son Donavan and husband, J.J.

She said God and her family are what kept her going and served as her source of strength to face each day.

After her surgeries, Rowell started to research heart disease, especially since heart disease runs in her family. Her father died from cardiac arrest when he was 30, and her mother had a heart attack six months to the day after Rowell's heart attack.

Sharing her story

Rowell, a teacher at Creative Kids Learning Center in Norman, wanted to educate herself and find ways to help others. She started sharing her story, volunteering with the American Heart Association and participating in Go Red for Women initiatives and annual Heart Walks.

Rowell said her goal is to help encourage women to learn more about heart disease, because their symptoms can be different from what men experience.

Another reason for her advocacy is to help her children better understand heart disease and the impact it may have on their lives.

“I will share my story with them and why it's so important to take care of ourselves,” she said.

She's also laying some groundwork for a possible career for her daughter, who is now 3.

Rowell said she likes to whisper “cardio thoracic surgeon” into her daughter's ear, such as when they are cuddling on the couch or bed or while Paisley is asleep.

A few weeks ago, she asked her daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up. Rowell said Paisley looked down, pointed to her heart and said, “A heart doctor.”

“My mouth dropped, and I was like, ‘She does listen to me,' ” Rowell said.

Overall, Rowell said she hopes her children can learn from her experiences and share that knowledge with others.

“I'm hoping they'll carry it with them and take it on to their families.”

Online: The Oklahoman 

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Shutdown Won’t Defund Planned Parenthood


The release of a series of videos that have exposed the despicable backroom practices at Planned Parenthood and which documented disturbing conversations with some of its employees have caused Americans to question the federal funding the organization receives. Without question, I share the same disgust of the utter disregard for unborn human life demonstrated by the organization’s sale of aborted body parts in the videos. Like many others across the nation, I certainly do not believe that taxpayers should foot the bill for any of Planned Parenthood’s expenses. However, given the political reality in which we live, the system by which our government operates and the process by which Planned Parenthood receives its federal funding, that goal is much easier said than done. 

In the midst of the Planned Parenthood scandal, lawmakers were confronted with a different crisis last week. With funding for the government’s operations across all agencies set to expire on September 30th, I was relieved that Congress acted responsibly and passed a short-term bill in both chambers to keep the government open. Signed into law by the president, the funding measure lasts through December 11th and prevents a painful government shutdown. While I was disappointed that we were forced to rely on another short-term resolution, it is more important that Congress avoided the serious consequences a government shutdown would have on our economy, troops and veterans, national security and numerous other government-funded organizations and employees. 

Despite many claims to the contrary and as I explained during a recent interview on Fox News Sunday, there is no federal funding for Planned Parenthood included in the short-term funding measure enacted last week. But to understand why, it requires knowing how the federal budget and appropriations process works. 

Federal spending falls into three general categories: discretionary, mandatory and interest on the debt. During the annual budget and appropriations process, lawmakers set the discretionary side of spending by writing a budget and then passing appropriations bills to fund various areas of government. Mandatory spending is made up of entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that are not subject to the appropriations process and are effectively “automatic” payments. While discretionary spending is considered on an annual basis, mandatory spending is essentially on autopilot unless and until lawmakers decide to reform how entitlements are distributed. 

Planned Parenthood’s largest portion of federal funding—approximately 90 percent—comes from Medicaid reimbursements, which is mandatory or entitlement spending. That means it is not subject to the annual appropriations process and, therefore, not addressed in the short-term discretionary spending bill passed last week. 

The other 10 percent of Planned Parenthood’s federal money comes primarily from the Title X Family Planning Program in the form of grants. However, all of the Title X grants for 2015 have been awarded and no others can be given out until April of next year, long past the length of the short-term funding measure passed last week. As PolitiFact – an independent organization that verifies the truthfulness of claims made by politicians and campaigns – confirmed, “Cole is correct that the short-term funding bill that Congress is slated to pass does not itself fund Planned Parenthood—largely because this bill addresses discretionary spending, while the vast majority of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding comes from mandatory spending through the Medicaid program.”

Furthermore, as I’ve said on numerous occasions, shutting down the government is always a mistake. Doing so over Planned Parenthood is an already-lost battle with President Obama, who will never agree to legislation that defunds the organization. While I am deeply saddened by the appalling evidence against the organization, I understand the political reality of what is achievable, given the president’s ideology and his ability to push it on the American people through his veto power. 

State Chairman of Oklahomans for Life Tony Lauinger recently agreed that cutting off Planned Parenthood takes steadfast commitment to change executive leadership. As he explained, “Sadly, there are no shortcuts to stopping the funding of the organization for these barbaric acts of inhumanity. The pro-abortion ideologue in the White House would make sure Planned Parenthood got taxpayer funding, regardless.” He continued, “A government shutdown is not only utterly futile, it is also counterproductive. It would shift the focus – from Planned Parenthood’s despicable acts, to our fellow citizens adversely affected by the shutdown.”

The Planned Parenthood issue cannot be swept under the rug and forgotten, and it certainly will not be. Through ongoing committee investigations, lawmakers will continue to shed light on the apparent wrongdoing that is taking place at the organization. But ultimately, real strides will require change in executive leadership at the White House. In order to do that, we must focus our efforts on electing a pro-life president. As Lauinger assessed, “We must win the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens, work through the system of government our founders gave us and elect a president who respects human life and will sign pro-life laws.” I couldn’t agree more.

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Cole Supports NDAA Conference Report


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, released the following statement after he supported the Conference Report for H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016, on the House floor. The legislation authorizes funding for our nation’s military personnel, readiness and operations. It includes $515 billion in base spending for national defense and $89.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), reflecting the president’s total budget request of $604.2 billion. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 270-156.

Unlike the House version passed in May, the NDAA Conference Report includes a 1.3 percent raise for service members, rather than the House-recommended version of 2.3 percent. The report also left out the lump-sum payment option at retirement, reflected cuts to housing allowances and increased fees for TRICARE prescriptions. 

However, the report does repeal a 1 percent penalty for military retirees on cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) benefits. As recommended by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, the legislation includes modernization of benefits and retirement options available to military and their families. Other positive provisions include support for commissary funding, retention of dual housing allowance for military couples and authorization of Survivor Benefit Plan coverage for a spouse in the event a former spouse predeceases the military member. 

“I support the legislation jointly produced by House and Senate conferees that equips our military service members and supports  our veterans, military retirees and their families,” said Cole. “While I am disappointed that several valuable provisions aimed at helping military retirees and families were not carried over from the original House version, I believe that passage of this compromise agreement is still the most responsible thing to do. In a dangerous world, it is critical that we have the capability to face direct threats to our nation’s security and those to our friends and allies. However, we cannot strike our enemies without a military that is properly equipped to confront those mounting dangers in our midst. This legislation reflects bipartisan agreement to prioritizing and arming our troops, and I am deeply disappointed that the president has threatened to veto the bill. Certainly, those who volunteered to risk their lives on behalf of all Americans should never be at the center of partisan dispute.” 

Cole also made remarks during Rules Committee consideration of the NDAA Conference Report yesterday, commenting on the president’s threat to veto the legislation. Video during the hearing is available here.


Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165

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The Oklahoman: Oklahoma votes are mixed on short-term spending bill averting government shutdown


The Oklahoman - Chris Casteel

Congress averted a government shutdown Wednesday, approving a short-term spending bill just hours before the deadline with strong bipartisan support.

President Barack Obama signed the legislation, which will keep departments funded close to their current levels until Dec. 11, two weeks before Christmas.

The Senate vote was 78-20, and the House vote was 277-151. Though they are the minority in both houses, Democrats carried the votes. But many Republicans — still smarting from the 2013 shutdown over the Affordable Care Act — joined to keep the government operating.

Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, voted against the bill to fund government into December, as did Reps. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, and Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa.

Reps. Tom Cole, R-Moore; Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne; and Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, voted for it.

The conflict over a short-term spending bill focused most recently on Planned Parenthood, though it wasn't the family planning group issue that kept Congress from getting the regular spending bills passed.

The overarching problem has been Democratic objections to the method used by Republicans to increase defense spending while keeping other departments at current budget levels.

Those issues still haven't been resolved. If they are not resolved by Dec. 11, Congress may have to pass another short-term spending bill. Republican leaders and the White House also will have to reach agreement on raising the nation's debt ceiling and reversing the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the American people “deserve far better than last-minute, short-term legislating.”

Cole, who helped push the bill through the House and was one of 91 Republicans in the House to vote for it, said, “While another short-term funding bill is not perfect, the alternative of a government shutdown is far worse.

“In the days, weeks and months ahead, I hope that lawmakers in both chambers and the president will waste no more time and instead work together to negotiate a broader budget agreement.” 

Cole said there was no funding in the bill for Planned Parenthood.

Most of the federal funding obtained by the group is through Medicaid reimbursements, which were not part of the bill, Cole said. And the grant funding received by the group is typically allocated in the spring, he said.

The measure includes about $700 million in emergency funding to fight wildfires in western states and extra money for the Veterans Affairs Department to process disability claims.

Online: The Oklahoman

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Cole Statement on Funding Bill to Prevent Government Shutdown


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a short-term continuing resolution that funds the government through December 11 and prevents a government shutdown. 

“While it is a relief that lawmakers have acted responsibly and passed legislation that keeps the government open, I am disappointed that we again had to use a short-term funding bill to do so,” said Cole. “The House has been hard at work this year in writing, considering and passing appropriations bills to fund every area of the government. In fact, for the first time since 2009, the House has not only passed all 12 appropriations bills out of committee but six of those bills successfully passed on the House floor. 

“One of the preeminent responsibilities we are tasked with as members of Congress is to ensure that government continues to function. While another short-term funding bill is not perfect, the alternative of a government shutdown is far worse. In the days, weeks and months ahead, I hope that lawmakers in both chambers and the president will waste no more time and instead work together to negotiate a broader budget agreement. 

Cole also responded to claims that the continuing resolution provides taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood. 

“Despite claims to the contrary, there is no federal funding for Planned Parenthood included in this bill. Since the majority of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding comes from Medicaid reimbursements, or entitlement spending, it is not subject to the annual appropriations process. The remaining amount of federal money previously given to Planned Parenthood primarily comes from the Title X program in the form of family-planning grants. All grants for this year have been distributed and no others can be awarded until April of next year, which is long past the length of the funding measure passed today. While I share the same disgust of the evidence seen in the atrocious videos, I want to assure my constituents that no additional funds are being provided in this bill for Planned Parenthood,” concluded Cole. 

As chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Cole led the subcommittee in writing, considering and passing legislation that defunded the Title X Family Planning grant program—the direct source of federal funding in the subcommittee’s jurisdiction. It passed the Appropriations Committee in June

To watch Cole’s remarks made on the House floor today in support of keeping the government open, click here


Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165

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The Hill: GOP budget leader: Spending bill doesn't fund Planned Parenthood


The Hill - Sarah Ferris

A top House Republican is asserting that the short-term government spending bill includes no funding for Planned Parenthood, a last-ditch effort to quell the conservative rebellion threatening the bill's fate.

“Just to make the record crystal clear, there's just simply not a dime in here for Planned Parenthood,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said during a markup of the spending bill by the House Rules Committee.

“I would hope even our colleagues who have sharp disagreement because of this would see fit that the entire government is funded for this period of time, since their concerns literally are not well-founded where this bill is concerned,” he told the committee.

The stopgap spending bill, which must pass the House on Wednesday, lasts only through mid-December. Cole told members Wednesday that the next round of federal grants to Planned Parenthood would not be doled out until the spring.

Planned Parenthood receives the bulk of its $400 million in federal funding through Medicaid – a portion that is not controlled by Congress.

“I just want to make it clear what they’re voting on – what’s there, and what’s not there,” said Cole, who leads the House budget subcommittee on health department spending. He added that he had recently confirmed with federal health officials that grants would not go out until April.

Cole has been privately telling members for weeks that their opposition to the government spending bill would not actually affect Planned Parenthood’s funding.

Instead, he urged the conservatives to pass the short-term bill and “give us a chance to work at a larger agreement, and we’ll see what people want to do.”

In the same meeting,the Rules Committee heard from Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), who is leading the effort to oppose the spending bill because of Planned Parenthood.

Mulvaney offered an amendment to defund the organization, co-sponsored by several other House conservatives, though it received a cold reception by even Republicans on the committee.

“Why can’t the folks who oppose this funding just concede that a funding prohibition won’t do any good?” Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) said during the markup. “And why can’t the folks who support this funding just concede that a funding prohibition won’t do any harm?”

Online: The Hill

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Commentary in OK Economic Report: The case for entitlement reform


Oklahoma Economic Report - Congressman Tom Cole

Perhaps the most daunting issue that we face as Americans is the massive amount of public debt that exists and the rate at which it is growing. Certainly, the staggering number of nearly $18.4 trillion calls for real solutions to change the debt trajectory. In an effort to return our nation to fiscally-firm footing, it’s important to consider how we reached this point while also recognizing the areas where we’ve been successful.

As Americans are well aware, debt is accumulated when spending outweighs the incoming revenue. If debt is allowed to grow because spending behavior is not addressed, it leads to an economically unsustainable situation and the solutions obviously become much more challenging. In order to change the debt trajectory, it requires that we uncover what’s driving it upwards.   

Based on the nation’s massive and climbing debt, it would certainly seem that nothing has been done to correct it. However, I would argue that not enough of the right solutions have been proposed and implemented—solutions that address what’s actually driving our debt. 

Federal spending falls into three general categories: discretionary, mandatory and interest. During the annual budgeting and appropriations process, lawmakers set the discretionary side of spending by writing a budget and then passing appropriations bills to fund various areas of government. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I sit on both committees that are directly involved in this process – Budget and Appropriations. 

The problem is that mandatory spending is by far the largest category, and it’s essentially left to its own devices unless and until lawmakers push for and agree on reforms. Because this category is made up of entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that require the government to automatically pay out benefits to Americans, it is not part of the annual appropriations process—where real cuts to discretionary spending have taken place each fiscal year since Republicans were given control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election. In 1970, discretionary spending made up approximately 62 percent of total spending with only 31 percent spent on mandatory. Those proportions have shifted dramatically. Last year, mandatory spending made up approximately 60 percent and discretionary only accounted for 33 percent. Whereas tough decisions have been made to rein in discretionary spending, mandatory spending is growing at an alarming rate. It’s an economic reality that cannot be ignored.  

While I wish I could report that we have solved the crisis and averted the imminent bankruptcy of our nation’s entitlement programs, I want to assure you that conversations are taking place on both sides of the aisle. As a part of the “Doc Fix” legislation we passed earlier this year, Republicans and Democrats both agreed on some small reforms so that seniors who earn more than $133,000 of income (or couples earning more than $266,000) pay a little more for their benefits. In addition, the Budget Conference Report included language urging Congress and the president to work together to find solutions, and the House Budget Committee has started an initiative meant to encourage discussion on worthwhile reforms to programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

One effort of which I am particularly hopeful is a bipartisan piece of legislation that I helped introduce in the previous and current Congresses to save Social Security. In March of this year, I joined with my Democrat House colleague John Delaney to reintroduce a bill that calls for a bicameral and bipartisan commission to discuss and propose solutions for long-term Social Security solvency. Once proposed, Congress would be required to have an up or down vote on the commission’s proposal. Forcing Congress to act would be a good start to solving our problem. 

Given the evidence that mandatory spending is clearly driving our debt, I believe it to be of paramount importance that lawmakers work together to prioritize entitlement reform. I remain hopeful that we can and will.

Online: Oklahoma Economic Report

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PolitiFact: Is there Planned Parenthood funding in the bill that stops a government shutdown?


PolitiFact - Lauren Carroll

Congress needs to pass a spending bill by Sept. 30, 2015, or there’ll be a government shutdown. Some members of Congress want to leverage this deadline to defund Planned Parenthood.

But the bill Congress will likely pass -- a short-term spending bill that funds the government through Dec. 11 -- doesn’t include funding for Planned Parenthood to begin with, said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., on Fox News Sunday Sept. 27. So Congress shouldn’t shut down the government over funding the women’s health organization.

"Well, first of all, look, on Planned Parenthood -- there's no money in the short-term (spending bill) for Planned Parenthood," Cole said. "Ninety percent of their money comes from Medicaid, not from anything we're going to do. And the remainder is awarded on what are called grants. They're all done in about April. There's none left to do this year, literally none. So, the idea that we're fighting over money for Planned Parenthood is -- it's a canard. It's just not true."

Is it true that this spending bill -- which could shut down the government if it’s not passed -- doesn’t include any money for Planned Parenthood? We decided to find out.

Federal budget and Planned Parenthood funding

To understand what Cole’s talking about, we need to consider a key distinction in the federal budget. For the most part, federal spending is either mandatory or discretionary.

The mandatory category includes what are commonly referred to as entitlement programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Annual spending for these programs is based on the number of people eligible for the program. Mandatory spending effectively runs on autopilot unless Congress changes this formula.

Discretionary spending goes toward pretty much everything else. Congress determines the amount of discretionary spending -- program by program -- through the annual appropriations process.

When we talk about getting a budget or else the government will shut down, we’re talking about discretionary spending, because that’s what funds most agencies and government salaries.

Keep that distinction in mind as we break down where Planned Parenthood’s federal funding comes from. Planned Parenthood receives about $450 million each year in federal funds. Government funding (including state funding, too) accounts for about 41 percent of Planned Parenthood’s yearly revenue, according to the group’s annual report.

Of the $450 million in annual federal funds, about $390 million comes from Medicaid. Less than $1 million comes from other entitlement programs: Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Medicaid provides subsidized health care for poor Americans, and Planned Parenthood provides a significant number of poor women with reproductive health care.

So nearly 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding comes from entitlement programs, a.k.a. mandatory spending. Meaning it’s not part of the appropriations process.

The remaining 10 percent does come from discretionary spending, meaning it’s normally up for debate in the appropriations process. The $60 million comes from grants under the National Family Planning Program -- known commonly as Title X because it operates under Title X of the Public Health Service Act. However, this remainder is also not at issue at the moment.

Right now, Congress is trying to pass a short-term bill that would fund the government through Dec. 11, while it comes up with a more comprehensive budget bill. Next year’s Title X grants will not be awarded until late spring, and all of this year’s grants have already been given out. So Title X grants are not included in this short-term funding bill.

But just because this bill doesn’t include appropriations for Planned Parenthood doesn’t mean that members of Congress can’t use it as a vehicle for defunding the organization in future legislation.

Bill language

Those who want to defund Planned Parenthood by leveraging funding for the rest of the government have advocated for including language in the short-term spending bill that zeros out all funding -- even if the funding isn’t accounted for in that particular bill.

The language likely would look something like the proposed Defund Planned Parenthood Act: "Passage of the bill that would bar, for one year, federal funding for Planned Parenthood and its affiliates unless they certify that, during that period, they will not perform abortions or provide funds to other entities that perform abortions. The prohibition would apply to all federal funds, including Medicaid."

If that language were to become law, the effect would be immediate, said Joshua Huder, senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute.

However, Congress normally doesn’t change mandatory spending through the appropriations process because "it doesn’t make political sense," he said. Reforming entitlement programs is an uphill battle, and attaching it to an appropriations bill doesn’t change that.

"It basically dooms the bill and guarantees a shutdown because those programs are so politically contentious," he said.

Additionally, the Appropriations Committee would be stepping on other committees’ toes, Huder added. Legislating on appropriations bills is technically against the rules, though the House can waive that rule.   

In any case, it appears that a "clean" short-term spending bill (which doesn’t zero out Planned Parenthood funding) will pass Sept. 29 or 30, pushing this fight off to December.

Our ruling

Cole said, "There’s no money" for Planned Parenthood in the bill that would keep the government open.

Congress could include language in the bill that would kill Planned Parenthood funding accounted for in other legislation. This would be an unusual move by Congress and would launch a major political fight.

But Cole is correct that the short-term funding bill that Congress is slated to pass does not itself fund Planned Parenthood -- largely because this bill addresses discretionary spending, while the vast majority of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding comes from mandatory spending through the Medicaid program.

We rate Cole’s claim True.

Online: PolitiFact

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Keystone is not a distraction


After nearly five years of refusing to state her opinion on the construction of the Keystone pipeline, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally broke her silence by declaring her opposition. In so doing, she also called the discussion of the pipeline a “distraction from important work we have to do on climate change…one that interferes with our ability to move forward with all the other issues.” I believe she is wrong on both counts. Discussions regarding the construction of the Keystone pipeline are not a distraction, and the position she finally took after years of waffling and stonewalling is inconsistent with job creation and clearly intended to score political points with environmental extremists.  

Following her public remarks, Clinton continued in a written explanation that “We shouldn’t be building a pipeline dedicated to moving North America’s dirtiest fuel through our communities.” Certainly, I am in favor of encouraging energy innovation and pursuing the most efficient energy sources to power our nation. But thwarting construction of Keystone XL will not prevent oil from traveling between Canada and the United States. Without the pipeline, producers and refiners will instead be bound to more dangerous and slower transport alternatives like train or truck, which poses a greater risk to the communities Clinton refers to.  

As another reason not to construct Keystone XL, Clinton cited the disrepair of existing pipelines across the nation. While I absolutely believe that pipelines should be properly maintained, repaired and re-assessed for safety, Clinton is wrong to put Keystone XL in the same category as existing infrastructure. Back in January 2011, TransCanada agreed to 57 standards determined and crafted by the Department of State and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to ensure the highest level of safety before, during and after construction of the northern route. 

When TransCanada first submitted its application in 2008 and during part of the now-excessive review, it’s important to remember that Clinton was serving as Secretary of State. In October 2010, she was asked whether the pipeline would be approved by the State Department. At that time, she responded that “we are inclined to do so,” signaling no reason for the hold-up that has marked the last seven years with reviews, studies and needless delay. 

More frustrating is the fact that completion of the southern route—from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast—was celebrated in 2012 by President Obama even though the Administration had nothing to do with its construction. Unlike the southern portion, Keystone XL requires presidential approval only because it crosses an international border, which means that opposition to it doesn’t necessarily prevent construction of other pipelines built within the confines of our own borders. In such cases, companies like TransCanada would only need to have approval at the state and local levels—even specific landowners—before attempting to build. 

As a reminder, if approved for construction, the $7 billion construction project would create around 42,100 direct and indirect jobs, adding around $2 billion in earnings to the American economy. Once completed, the pipeline could move up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day—we currently import about half of that amount from the Middle East. In addition to creating American jobs and pumping money into our economy without costing taxpayers anything, the pipeline would move oil more safely and quickly than alternative vehicles. In the process, by partnering with our Canadian friends, America could become less dependent on oil originating from volatile areas abroad.   

Hillary Clinton’s opposition to Keystone XL is obviously not founded on the facts surrounding the construction project but rather on pandering to radical environmental interest groups. By announcing her opposition to the pipeline’s construction, she has foolishly declared her opposition to the thousands of American jobs it would create. Furthermore, her position would require the United States to become even more dependent on foreign oil in the name of combating climate change, despite numerous studies that have revealed no significant environmental impact from the pipeline. Not only is Clinton’s position economically unsound and environmentally counterproductive, but it is diplomatically insulting to Canada—one of our strongest friends and allies. Certainly, this is not the sort of leadership America deserves.

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Rep. Cole: “Pursuing right policy to employ thousands of people”

2015-10-08 01:28:08

Rep. Cole on PP Videos: "Many Americans were deeply disturbed"

2015-10-07 03:40:03

Rep. Cole: "Begin the places where we can agree"

2015-10-04 15:35:22

Rep. Cole: "Shutting down the government is always a mistake"

2015-09-30 20:12:57

Rep. Cole: "Share disgust for evidence in atrocious videos"

2015-09-30 18:41:39

Rep. Cole: "No money for Planned Parenthood in this bill"

2015-09-30 17:50:12

Rep. Cole: "Hopeful we can come to larger agreement"

2015-09-30 17:44:57

Rep. Cole on NDAA: "Shouldn't be subject to partisan dispute"

2015-09-30 17:33:51

Rep. Cole discusses shifts in House Republican leadership

2015-09-28 21:59:24

Rep. Cole talks about Speaker's retirement on Morning Joe

2015-09-28 15:21:41

Rep. Cole responds to Speaker's retirement on Fox News Sunday

2015-09-27 15:13:13

Rep. Cole shares 2015 Summer Reading List

2015-09-15 00:10:48

Rep. Cole: "Government shutdown is a failed strategy"

2015-09-14 13:06:57

Rep. Cole on Meet the Press

2015-09-13 15:25:12

Rep. Cole: "What policies should next president enact to deal with budget situation?"

2015-09-11 03:34:15

Rep. Cole: "Iran must be held to a higher standard than normal"

2015-09-11 03:25:50

Rep. Cole on Iran Deal: "Most Americans disapprove"

2015-09-09 15:32:19

Rep. Cole celebrates Native American Heritage Month

2015-08-22 22:14:09

Rep. Cole offers Congressional Response to State of Indian Nations

2015-08-16 02:03:33

Rep. Cole Disaster Preparedness PSA

2015-08-06 16:04:06

Contact Information

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

Committee Assignments




Currently serving in his seventh term, Tom Cole was elected to Congress in 2002. Identified by Time Magazine as “one of the sharpest minds in the House,” Cole is an advocate for a strong national defense, a tireless advocate for taxpayers and small businesses, and a leader on issues dealing with Native Americans and tribal governments. Cole was named as one of the “Five Freshmen to Watch” by Roll Call at the outset of his congressional career.

Since 2009, Cole has served on the powerfulHouse Appropriations Committee, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education); he is also assigned to the Subcommittees on Defense and Interior.

For the third consecutive Congress, Cole was reappointed to the House Budget Committee in 2015 as one of the three members of the majority party who also sits on the Appropriations Committee. He is currently considered the Senior Appropriator on the panel.

In 2013, Cole was appointed to serve on the House Rules Committee. In addition, Congressman Cole serves as a Deputy Whip for the Republican Conference and is a member of the Republican Steering Committee.

In October 2013, he was appointed by Speaker Boehner and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan to serve as one of four House Republicans on a House-Senate joint budget conference committee that negotiated a bipartisan budget deal for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

Tom Cole has a significant background of service to his home state of Oklahoma. He has served as the State Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, District Director to 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 19,1995.

Cole is widely regarded as one of the GOP’s top political strategists. He served as Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 1992 cycle. He also served as the Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee during the historic 2000 cycle in which Republicans won the presidency, the Senate and the House for the first time in 48 years. In the 2008 cycle, Cole served as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Cole is a founding partner and past president of CHS & Associates, a nationally recognized political consulting and survey research firm based in Oklahoma City. The firm has been named one of the top 20 in its field 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 serves on the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents, as well as the national board of the Fulbright Association. He is also a member of the Congressional Advisory Board to the Aspen Institute.

Tom Cole is a fifth generation Oklahoman and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation. He is currently one of the only Native Americans serving in Congress. He was awarded the Congressional Leadership award by the National Congress of American Indians in 2007 and 2011 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 the Mayor of Moore in her native state of Oklahoma. Cole’s late father, John, served 20 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


Steve Russell


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