Tom Cole

Tom Cole

OKLAHOMA's 4th DISTRICT

Cole Supports Bills to Strengthen Cybersecurity

2015/04/23

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation this week to help protect against cyber threats. The Protecting Cyber Networks Act (H.R. 1560) and National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (H.R. 1731) recommend and clarify appropriate ways for private companies to help the nation combat cyber threats. Both bills provide an avenue for private companies to voluntarily share indicators of cyber threats with the federal government while safeguarding personal information and protecting the privacy of individuals. 

“In a world where digital boundaries change constantly, it is important for the United States to remain vigilant and combat threats to our national security, particularly in the digital realm,” said Cole. “While our nation and allies face dangerous enemies around the world, we must assume that those same enemies are continuing to launch cyber attacks on our homeland. By enlisting the voluntary help of private companies, I am pleased that the legislation passed by the House this week strengthens our ability to identify potential threats before causing damage and without compromising personal information.”

To watch Congressman Cole’s remarks in support of both bills during a hearing in the House Committee on Rules earlier this week, click here

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Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165

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Remembering Oklahoma City 20 Years Later

2015/04/17

There are some dates that you remember with complete clarity for the rest of your life. Without question, Oklahomans will never forget where we were and what we were doing on April 19, 1995. The memory of that day 20 years ago will remain permanently imprinted in my mind as long as I live. 

On that fateful day, I was serving as Secretary of State to Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and was arriving at the state capitol building just at nine o’clock. I felt the tremble and wondered what it was as I walked toward my office. I learned in the following hours that something terrible had happened in downtown Oklahoma City—something that would change our lives and communities forever. 

From that moment forward, I watched Oklahomans and Americans come together to mourn and lend support where they could. I remember the bravery and strength displayed by first responders and the exceptional leadership of Governor Frank Keating, First Lady Cathy Keating, Oklahoma City Mayor Ron Norick and Congressman Frank Lucas in one of our darkest hours as a state. 

That day, 168 innocent lives were senselessly claimed and prematurely taken, and irreparable holes still remain in communities. Children yearn for lost mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers grieve lost siblings, friends and loved ones miss the voices of their dear ones. 

But even in the midst of tragedy due to a despicable act of domestic terror, Oklahoma shined triumphantly and showed the world that evil would not overcome good. Decency prevailed over the terror. Compassion was readily available and offered by countless individuals. And through this terrible nightmare, the people of the United States and Oklahoma demonstrated to the world that they would never be terrorized, never be humbled, would always be proud and always respond with compassion and courage when confronted with danger and disaster. 

This week and always, we remember those we lost, we honor those who were up to the task to help us through it. And we remain grateful that we live in the greatest, the freest and the most compassionate country in the world.

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Oklahoma Delegation Remembers April 19 Tragedy

2015/04/17

Washington, D.C. – Members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation joined in remembrance of the tragic bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. The act of domestic terrorism that took place 20 years ago claimed 168 innocent lives in Oklahoma City and left families, loved ones and communities forever changed.

“I will never forget the hallowed expressions of the men and women who had worked themselves to exhaustion helping their fellow citizens in the explosion’s aftermath. And I will never forget the outpour of support from across the country. Everywhere we turned, a hand was reaching out to pull us back to our feet,” said Rep. Frank Lucas. “Before that fateful day, many folks may have overlooked Oklahoma. If you didn’t go down I-35 or down old Route 66, you might have missed us. But on that day, 20 years ago, we were thrust onto the world stage and demonstrated that in the worst of circumstances we could reemerge stronger and more united than ever. Oklahoma and the rest of our nation changed on that day. However, in the wake of tragedy, our resolve and sense of community has only grown. Today we honor the memories of the 168 souls who were taken from us and those whose lives were changed forever.”

“Even though time has passed, the nightmare that took place 20 years ago vividly remains for many and our sorrow still lingers for those lost in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995,” said Rep. Tom Cole. “When I think back on that fateful day, I remember the heartbreak, pain and shock felt by all—but most especially by the families, friends and loved ones of those whose lives were prematurely and unfairly taken. In the midst of a terrible tragedy, I remember the bravery and strength displayed by first responders. I will also never forget the outpouring of love and support within our own communities and from countless others across the nation and around the world. And I shall always be grateful for the splendid leadership by Governor Frank Keating, First Lady Cathy Keating, Oklahoma City Mayor Ron Norick and Rep. Frank Lucas in that time of tragedy and triumph for the state of Oklahoma. ”

“With the anniversary of this terrible tragedy, we will grieve the loss of many innocent adults and children, stand with the survivors and also give thanks for the first responders and the volunteers from Oklahoma and across the country that helped in the aftermath,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin. “It is because of the strength of our communities and the help from Americans across this great nation that our state rebounded stronger than before. And our country came to know the Oklahoma Standard—the way in which Oklahomans come together in times of tragedy and hardship. So from the ashes of this evil act, our state built a message of hope and love. It is through these principles that we can overcome any challenge.”

"Twenty years ago the Oklahoma City bombing seared the concept of terrorism on American soil into our national consciousness and proved that we are all vulnerable, even in the heartland,” said Rep. Jim Bridenstine. “I was in college at Rice University in 1995. All of us remember exactly where we were that day, and we will never forget the 168 people who were killed.  Terrorism is evil, yet the incredible response to tragedies like we experienced in Oklahoma 20 years ago serve to highlight the strength, resolve, and resiliency of the American people to the world."   

“April 19th, 1995 will forever be one of those days that Oklahomans live with every day of their life,” said Rep. Steve Russell. “Not only did it affect our citizens, it also opened our nation’s eyes to the frightening thought of domestic terrorism. It is because of events like these that we must never let our guard down and must remain vigilant in protecting our entire homeland. As we reflect on the 20th anniversary, let us pray for the families that lost loved ones, and for the many survivors, that they may be granted a special comfort and peace.”  

“Today we remember the 168 Oklahomans, including young children, who were killed in an evil act of domestic terrorism in Oklahoma City,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe. “We remember the rescue workers, the firefighters and everyone who rushed to the scene to provide aid and extend comfort. What arose from the rubble that day was the Oklahoma Standard – strangers helping strangers, giving sacrificially for the betterment of our great state. Since then, the rest of the nation has seen this rich characteristic on display time and again as Oklahomans pull up their boots in trying times and walk forward with hope that comes from banding together. May we stand in solidarity today to remember the victims, to give thanks to first responders, and to continue to pray for Oklahoma and the families and friends who lost loved ones on April 19, 1995.”

“On this solemn anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, my family and staff remember the lives that were lost 20 years ago,” said Sen. James Lankford. “We remember the first responders who acted selflessly in a time of need. We remember the families who lost loved ones, and we remember the survivors who continue to re-count and re-live that fateful day. We lift up the families impacted by this tragic event and all Oklahomans who did not let fear overcome their love for our fellow man. When faced with anguish, Oklahomans thrived. We did not allow our hope to fade. Our state experienced firsthand Psalm 34:18 which says, ‘the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’. This year we are all finding practical ways to serve each other, even those we disagree with, so we never again allow anger to blind our eyes to one another. May God bless our state, and may we never lose our resilient Oklahoma spirit.” 

###House members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation offered remarks in remembrance of the tragedy on April 19, 1995 and led a moment of silence to honor the victims on the House floor.

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Cole receives Congressional Justice Award

2015/04/16

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after he was named a 2015 recipient of the American Bar Association’s Congressional Justice Award. This annual award is given to lawmakers who have shown leadership in matters of justice. As one of four lawmakers who received the award this year, Cole was specifically recognized for his support of the Legal Services Corporation and his leadership related to passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. 

“I am honored to be recognized by the American Bar Association for my work on issues to ensure justice is upheld both on tribal lands and across the country,” Cole said. “Especially in light of my Chickasaw heritage, I believe that Native Americans have a critical perspective and role in American society that should be acknowledged and respected. That role extends to the justice system existing in tribes across the country. As an advocate for the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act and the Legal Services Corporation, I remain committed to protection and justice for all vulnerable individuals.”

For more information about the Congressional Justice Award, click here

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Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165

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Monitoring and Understanding Extremist Threats Abroad

2015/04/14

As threats of terrorism continue to unfold around the globe, particularly through the spread of extremist groups in the Middle East, it is critical for America to show strength and focus in its dealings with friends and foes alike. Beyond condemning specific acts and sponsors of terror, our country must be guided by a clear strategy in our dealings abroad, including our approach to our relationships with both allied partners and those who wish us harm.

Certainly, the most revealing glimpse into the state of the world is through firsthand observation and conversation with our allies living in or near volatile areas. Recently, as part of a House delegation, I had the opportunity to travel overseas and engage in useful and eye opening conversations with key leaders and U.S. officials in seven different countries: England, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Spain. During this trip led by Speaker John Boehner, I was able to better grasp the gravity of the threats in the region and to our country and its allies. 

It was evident that the Middle East is in incredible turmoil. In addition to the dangerous threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), there are several other sources of conflict of which Iran is directly and detrimentally involved. Clearly in an effort to establish hegemony, Iran is siding with dangerous actors throughout the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s corrupt regime and Houthi rebels in Yemen. Iran is also exercising undue influence in Iraq, which could easily become an Iranian satellite.

Iran's aggressive actions have caused the formation of an unlikely and unofficial de facto alliance between Israel and the Sunni states. While differences remain over issues like Palestine, both sides speak in identical terms about Iranian aggression and activity in the region, believing that Iranians are undermining sovereign states.  

Another unifying factor for otherwise opposing sides is the problem of radical terrorism throughout the region. Along with Israel, every Sunni state sees ISIL as a dangerous terrorist movement. Even leaders in Iran and Syria would agree that the terrorist group is everybody’s enemy and nobody’s friend. This has led to common action—though obviously not coordinated with Iran and Syria—to combat the dangerous enemy’s presence in Iraq.

Unfortunately, our shared belief that ISIL must be stopped is not enough to trust Iran in other areas, especially in light of P5+1 nuclear negotiations. Because the framework for a nuclear deal with Iran emerged when we were overseas, we heard a great deal of concern voiced by leaders in neighboring countries about the nature of the final agreement. It didn’t come only from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Indeed, other countries like Saudi Arabia reflected the same concerns, warning us that Iran should not be trusted and must not be allowed to develop any nuclear capacity or capability while engaged in aggressive activity throughout the region.

The lack of confidence among our friends and allies in the president’s ability to lead and confront Iran was evident throughout the trip. And it only takes a quick glance at his recent record in the Middle East to understand the skepticism exhibited by our friends in the region. Because there’s a strong absence of American leadership and considering previous Administration misfires related to American policy in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, there is just cause for concern about the absence of a comprehensive U.S. strategy in the Middle East. 

After hearing firsthand from our friends, including Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah II, about the tumultuous reality in the region, it was clear to our delegation that the Administration needs to spell out the strategy America is operating under and offer it to Congress. Moreover, it is clear that many Democrats, who are normally supportive of the president, also have serious concerns about the Administration’s current foreign policy in the Middle East in general and with respect to Iran in particular. 

My recent trip was a reminder that given the threats that emanate in the Middle East, we are not going to be able to avoid being actively involved in the region. It is critical that we keep the friends that we have in the Middle East, confront the terror within the region and prevent Iran from developing into a strategic threat to both our friends there and to the United States.

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Lawton Constitution: Cole: Obama makes Mideast missteps

2015/04/12

Lawton Constitution - Kim McConnell

Tensions are increasing in the Middle East and the framework for an international agreement with Iran won’t do anything to change that, Fourth District U.S. Rep. Tom Cole said. 

“The situation is not getting better; it’s getting worse,” said Cole, R-Oklahoma, noting that a nuclear agreement that even U.S. friends don’t trust won’t help. “I’m very skeptical of the deal.” 

Cole, who was in the Lawton area last week for the rollout of BAE System’s first modernized Paladin artillery, has consistently questioned the wisdom of the agreement that supporters say could prevent Iran from developing   nuclear weapons while lifting international sanctions on the country. President Barack Obama calls the framework, crafted by an international coalition, a historic understanding, but Cole is among those who don’t trust a country that they say has been   historically unwilling to conform. In a meeting with The Constitution’s editorial board, Cole said the decision follows in the missteps of other decisions by the Obama administration, noting Obama also was wrong on actions taken in Libya and Syria, and that the failure to keep military personnel in Iraq “was a bad thing” because you can’t claim you won a war by withdrawing troops. 

The international framework for an agreement with Iran, which sets goals for that country while pledging to lift international sanctions, was announced last week by the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nation’s Security Council, plus Germany) and the European Union, with its terms specifying that a plan must be reached     by June 30. The agreement has drawn widespread criticism from Republicans and Democrats, Cole said, adding that it also is being viewed skeptically in the Middle East by those who are Iran’s neighbors. 

Cole said Iran continues to be a state sponsor of terrorism and has continued to exert pressure on the region, almost as if it were trying to recreate the old Persian Empire. 

“They are the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” he said, noting those at the negotiation table “are not dealing with the most trustworthy negotiating partner.” He also said the Iranian president announced Thursday that his country wouldn’t sign the agreement unless all sanctions against his country were lifted on the first day of implementation, rather than in stages, as the U.S. has insisted. 

He said that leads to troubling potential for Iran, because   lifting sanctions would allow a flow of funds that Iran could, in turn, use to continue supporting terrorism and increasing its influence in the region. 

Cole said he also is troubled by the Obama Administration’s support of the plan, noting it also was wrong about intervention in Libya and Syria and adding that it is hard to believe that the world actually was better off with former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. He said Obama also called ISIL “the junior varsity of terrorism,” a direct contrast to the actuality of a terrorist organization that now controls an area the size of Indiana and which continues to be a major source of terrorist threats. 

Cole also criticizes the agreement itself, noting its provisions are in striking contrast to statements Obama made in 2012. He said all the nation’s friends in the region are telling the U.S. the agreement is a bad idea, but said Obama is anxious to   craft a historic deal and is willing to compromise when he should have “gotten up and walked away from the table.” 

Cole said that doesn’t mean the agreement’s provisions are entirely bad. He noted it contains provisions   to cut the number of centrifuges that could be used to make nuclear weapons by two-thirds and provides for inspections (although the details are not as strong as they should be). The agreement also includes multiple countries, meaning sanctions   that would be applied should Iran fail to comply would be applied by the international community. 

“He has tried, but you have to recognize who is on the other side of the table,” Cole said. 

Situations playing out on the world stage also could be influencing budget decisions, including plans for the defense budget, Cole said. 

The issue is pertinent to Lawton-Fort Sill and other military communities because of the potential impact that sequestrationmandated cuts will have on military personnel. Cole, while cautioning that the community and legislative leaders need to take things “one step at a time,” said cuts in military personnel are tied into ongoing budget negotiations and while the Republican and presidential budgets are different, they are within the same total amount, meaning it should be easier to reach an accord.   

Cole said he was told Thursday that the military budget is “looking better” than what legislators had initially envisioned. He said while there is no guarantee for increases in personnel stationed at Fort Sill and other military installations, projected cuts will be less than initially announced because of stabilized defense spending influenced by a re-emergence of defense hawks. But Cole said he isn’t yet willing to say that there will be no cuts in military personnel, noting “there are too many places along the way to go wrong.” 

He said part of the stabilization may be influenced by the fact that the world looks different, noting terrorism seems to be growing. Russia also continues to make moves in Eastern Europe, and some people feel what is going on in Eastern Europe is a direct result of the U.S. military drawdown, he said.

Online: Lawton Constitution

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Lawton Constitution: Next-Generation Paladin Makes Debut At Elgin Plant

2015/04/09

Lawton Constitution - Mitch Meador

ELGIN — The audience waited expectantly as the tracks of Serial No. 003 M109A7 howitzer turned slowly at first, then faster as it rolled out onto an open stretch of concrete.  

The three-member crew inside spun the nextgeneration Paladin around 360 degrees and elevated the tube as onlookers recorded videos of its performance on their phones.  

Adam Zarfoss, director of artillery and Bradley programs for BAE Systems, welcomed guests to the anxiously awaited delivery of the first M109A7 from its Elgin facility on Thursday.  

“The PIM team has put forth an extraordinary effort over the past several years to get us to the point we’re at,” Zarfoss said, adding that “this is only the first of many deliveries. The team has a long, long way to go. But they have come together in an extremely positive, efficient and cooperative fashion, and we have been honored to be part of it.”  

BAE Systems has come a long way since the Jan. 10, 2014, groundbreaking. Zarfoss said production lines have been running at Anniston Army Depot, Ala., and the BAE Systems facility   in York, Pa., for almost a year now, and more vehicles are under way.

“I think we’ve got 11 or 12 howitzers in production at this point,” said Zarfoss, noting that No. 4 completed its test firing at Fort Sill on Wednesday. Zarfoss said officials hope this is the start of a long and continuous production of the M109A7 “and more importantly, the fielding of this important capability to our soldiers. This isn’t about building systems. It’s about providing combat power to our nation’s army.”        U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., probably said it best:

“The appropriate theme song for this event should probably be the old song, ‘The Long and Winding Road,’ because it’s certainly been a very long road for all of us.” 

Cole praised U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., by saying, “Nobody can have a better battle buddy than Jim Inhofe when it comes to not only thinking about our community and thinking about the military each and every soldier at a time, but thinking about how critical that mission is for our country. He’s dedicated his life to politically making sure that when we do ask men and women in uniform to go do tough things, that they’ve got everything this country could possibly give them to make sure that they succeed and come home safely.”  

Inhofe was unable to attend, but Zarhoff said he was celebrating with them in spirit.  

Cole also thanked the U.S. Army for sticking with the development of the new system.   

Precision targeting

“We’ve recently had tremendous testimony from (Army Chief of Staff) Gen. (Raymond) Odierno and (Secretary of the Army) John McHugh about how important this project is and what it would mean for our soldiers and the ability now to pinpoint individual rounds in ways that were unthinkable a decade ago,” the congressman said.

Cole thanked BAE Systems for never losing faith along the way and for its commitment to the Elgin community and its industrial park. 

“Nobody could have better partners,” he said of BAE Systems and the Army.   

Cole also lauded Elgin Mayor Larry Thoma: “Nobody has walked every step of the way like the mayor. In fact he’s gone through two or three congressmen and senators along the way. The only public official who’s been here each and every time is the mayor, and he never lost faith.”  

Brig. Gen. David Bassett, the Army’s program executive officer for ground combat systems, said he would feel safe inside the new howitzer: “I would go to war in this vehicle tomorrow. We think it gives our soldiers a decisive edge.” 

“It’s a beautiful howitzer … It’s not a concept vehicle. It’s not a prototype. It’s a production howitzer made right here in Oklahoma as well as in locations like   Anniston, Ala., and York, Pa.,” Bassett said.  

Bassett said his father was commissioned into the Field Artillery Corps in 1963, the same year that the M109 howitzer was introduced into the force.  

“This howitzer is a promise we’re keeping to our field artillery soldiers, and it’s a promise that’s been made over a number of decades,” he said.  

On budget, on schedule  

Bassett said the program is on budget and on schedule, and in two years the first Army unit will be equipped with the PIM howitzer system and its companion vehicle, the M992A3 Carrier, Ammunition, Tracked (CAT).  

Afterward, Bassett said this howitzer gives troops a vehicle that’s ahead of where industry   will take the other vehicles in the armored brigade combat teams.

“You’re talking about a vehicle now that’s more reliable, that’s got more power, that’s got more protection, that’s going to get them to the battlefield and get them home safely, and allow them to deliver indirect fires that give us a decisive edge on the battlefield,” Bassett said.  

“We really think this is a tremendous step forward,” he added.  

“It’s great to be back here in Oklahoma for what is an absolutely outstanding day and a celebration of incredibly hard work of the PIM team here and the hundreds of people who have been supportive of this program over the years,” said Erwin Bieber, president of platforms and services for BAE Systems.  

Bieber, who was here for the groundbreaking, said he’s had a tremendous amount of pleasure watching the program move forward incrementally over the past 2½ years.    

Logistical benefits  

Bieber said the high degree of commonality between the platform on which the PIM is built and that of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle will provide cost savings, efficiency, logistical benefits, training benefits “and that’s going to be a significant benefit to the Army in savings going forward.”

Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology and also Army acquisition executive, took a day off from the Pentagon for the ceremony. 

“It’s well worth it. I’m happy to be here,” she said, drawing laughs when she joked that “we’ve gone through 2½ years of this, fighting this long and winding   road that’s actually laced with IEDs.”

Utility through 2050  

She congratulated BAE Systems for meeting the milestone in a timely and efficient manner. She also read off a list of innovations that make PIM “a revolutionary next-generation system” that will provide indirect fires for armor and mechanized infantry divisions through the year 2050.  

“Capability for this platform operates on the cutting edge of emerging technology, offering significant overmatch against our adversaries,” she said.

PIM is in low-rate initial production for now, but Shyu said afterwards she will be pushing for full-rate production in about two years, once the Army completes its operational testing and evaluation.  

No one knows the travails of the long and winding road better than Mark Signorelli, BAE Systems’ vice president and general manager for combat vehicles. He started working on the Elgin Industrial Park in 1998 and has weathered the cancellation of Crusader and the Non-Line of Sight Cannon. They weren’t a complete loss, as technology developed for those systems has been recaptured in the M109A7.  

“Things like the electric drives, the high-voltage power system come from that program, upgraded engines come from the Bradley program, and a lot of the armor technology that’s on this vehicle to protect the soldiers comes from Crusader, NLOS Cannon and other programs,” Signorelli said.

“This really is a sort of integration of technologies from across the Army’s investment portfolio into a new vehicle,” he said.

Online: The Lawton Constitution

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Tax Reform Starts in Congress

2015/04/06

Each year when it comes time for filing income taxes, hardworking Americans are forced to navigate what has become a needlessly complicated process. Because of the headaches associated with gathering or finding the necessary filing documents, navigating the tricky instructions and wondering still if you covered all your bases, it’s no wonder that many rely on paid professionals to comply or end up requesting an extension. Especially in the days leading up to April 15th, the cries for a simpler, more straightforward system have become more audible and serve as a reminder that tax reform is desperately needed in our country. 

Just over a hundred years ago in 1913, the 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution established the modern income tax system. But time has made it unrecognizable; the tax code is longer and our yearly tax bill continues to get more expensive. Without question, the many changes to the tax code over the years, along with an increasing demand for higher taxes from Democrats, have caused much more frustration than improvement. 

Republicans continue to discuss and propose solutions to help rather than confuse or penalize the people that the government is designed to serve. Most recently, this commitment to easing the burden on American taxpayers caused by the nation’s cumbersome code was present in the introduction and passage of budgets in both chambers of Congress. In the House proposal, lawmakers again recommended that the nation move toward a model that is easier to understand and navigate. 

Unfortunately, President Obama continues to test the boundaries of his power by resorting to executive action on matters where Congress does not agree with him—either in part or at all. Instead of negotiating with lawmakers and abiding by the Constitution, the president has shown that he will bypass the legislative branch to get his way.  

At the beginning of last month, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest revealed that the president was considering unilateral action in all areas to further his agenda. When asked if that could include changes to the tax code, Earnest responded that “the president has asked his team to examine the array of executive authorities that are available to him to try to make progress on his goals. So I’m not in a position to talk about any of those in any detail at this point, but the president is very interested in this avenue generally.”

By even considering executive action with the tax code, the Administration is ignoring what the Constitution says. As written in Article 1, Section 8, “The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises.” Those words clearly explain where tax reform should begin, and it’s not with the executive branch. In a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew following Earnest’s comments, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan both agreed that the Administration should respect the boundaries of its power and instead negotiate with Congress to find solutions. The chairmen called upon Lew to discourage unilateral action on tax reform by reminding him that it is not constitutional.  

Certainly, Americans agree that something must be done to simplify the current tax system. But like other matters that cover so much ground, any overhaul should be the result of negotiation. Again, while lawmakers are open and ready to find common ground with the president on the matter, the negotiation constitutionally starts in Congress and cannot be legislated unilaterally by the executive branch.  

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The Oklahoman: Oklahoma Republican Reps. Tom Cole, Steve Russell oppose proposed nuclear deal with Iran

2015/04/04

The Oklahoman - Chris Casteel

Rep. Tom Cole returned from the Middle East on Friday and said the Obama administration’s framework for a nuclear deal with Iran could set off an arms race in an already fragile region.

“It’s a region in turmoil, a very dangerous turmoil,” Cole, R-Moore, said in an interview. “The other countries aren’t going to sit there in the region and say, ‘Iran can develop (nuclear weapons), and we can’t.’”

Cole accompanied House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other senior Republicans on a weeklong trip to Britain, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

In Israel, the group met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just a month after his speech to a joint session of Congress warning against a nuclear deal with Iran.

Cole said Netanyahu was “nothing but respectful of the president of the United States, but he thinks he has a better understanding of the Iranian regime than the people negotiating” the nuclear deal.

The Israeli prime minister also feels strongly that he needs to speak out about his country’s position, Cole said.

Cole voiced many of the same criticisms as other Republicans — and some Democrats — of the nuclear deal, chief among them that Iran’s government couldn’t be trusted to stick to the terms.

“And I don’t have a lot of faith in this administration to make them do it,” Cole said.

Israel never publicly acknowledged having nuclear weapons, but Cole said the country has had them for decades. The reason Israel’s nukes did not ignite an arms race in the Middle East, he said, is that the other countries didn’t worry about Israel using them first.

Rep. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, issued a statement on the deal, saying, “Even if we could trust Iran with their desire for a nuclear weapon, which is hard to do, they are a known state sponsor of terrorism.”

If international sanctions were eased on Iran, Russell said, the relief likely would benefit only those in the country “who seek our destruction” and not the general populace.

Cole also said he is leery of any agreement that doesn’t require congressional approval. The Obama administration has said that the nuclear agreement could bypass Congress, but Cole said easing of U.S. sanctions would require a modification in law.

Cole said the president and administration officials should go to Capitol Hill and “start convincing people” if they think the deal is as good as they say.

“It’s not that people don’t want it to be historic,” Cole said. “They do.”

But lawmakers from both parties have a “fundamental lack of faith in the Iranians” and a “fundamental skepticism” that the administration would enforce any agreement, Cole said.

White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters Friday that there had been some “ratcheted-up rhetoric on the fringes, but I actually think that most of the response here we found reassuring. We have found that both Republicans and Democrats alike have shown a thoughtful response. They want to take a look at the details. That’s something that we appreciate.”

Online: The Oklahoman

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Cole Statement on Iran Talks

2015/04/03

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after tentative framework for a deal with Iran was announced yesterday by the P5+1 and European Union in Switzerland. Following the announcement, President Barack Obama praised the framework, calling it a “historic understanding with Iran.”

“The fact that President Obama believes that a deceptive regime, which is a state sponsor of terrorism, can be a trusted negotiating partner is both naïve and troubling,” said Cole. “In my opinion, the president is too concerned with claiming credit for what he believes will be a historic agreement. Certainly, it may be historic but not for the right reasons. America and our allies have everything to lose and nothing to gain by trusting Iran.

“Common sense and past experience should make it obvious that Iran's objective is to develop the capability to produce a nuclear weapon at a moment's notice. Furthermore, it should be plainly evident that the United States, Israel and our Middle Eastern allies sit atop the list of potential targets of such a weapon. By conceding to these dangerous and dishonest actors, the president is jeopardizing the safety of our country and that of our friends. 

“In my opinion, the president has an obligation to submit any agreement of this magnitude to Congress for its consideration. In the days ahead, I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to assure that he does so. Through their elected representatives, the American people deserve to see a vigorous debate and to have the final say on a matter of this scope and gravity,” concluded Cole. 

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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
cole.house.gov

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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

OKLAHOMA's 1st DISTRICT

Markwayne Mullin

OKLAHOMA's 2nd DISTRICT

Frank Lucas

OKLAHOMA's 3rd DISTRICT

Steve Russell

OKLAHOMA's 5th DISTRICT

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