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Tuesday, April 20, 2021
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The Need for Additional Relief

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Although there is broad bipartisan agreement in Congress that additional coronavirus relief is needed, I regret that the status of delivering relief hasn’t changed a lot since May. It’s even more disappointing since lawmakers already agree on how to approach several aspects of needed relief. 

As you might remember back in mid-May, the U.S. House of Representatives considered legislation deceptively packaged and promoted by Democrats as coronavirus relief. While there may have been a few worthy provisions, those items were greatly overshadowed by the unrelated-to-coronavirus policies stuffed into the more than $3 trillion package. Sadly, the substance of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s so-called HEROES Act looked more like using a crisis to advance a liberal wish list than a serious desire to help struggling Americans. That was made even more obvious by the fact that the legislation was crafted behind closed doors and without any Republican input whatsoever. Not surprisingly, that bill was never taken up by the Republican-led Senate or signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Since then, there have been scattered conversations between Speaker Pelosi and Trump Administration leaders that, at times, seemed hopeful. Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi has thus far refused to budge on both the total cost of the next relief package as well as her belief that we have to agree on everything before we can agree on anything. By contrast, the Trump Administration has shown a lot more willingness to negotiate something real. In fact, the president said himself that he would be willing to sign a bill totaling $1.5 trillion, if it didn’t have unrelated policies attached to it. Meanwhile, although many Democrats like to point fingers at the Senate for not bringing up a coronavirus relief bill of any kind, it’s worth noting that it was Senate Democrats who recently blocked consideration of one.   

Considering that both chambers managed to deliver four substantial and bipartisan relief packages to the American people earlier this year, the months long delay and lack of meaningful progress on a fifth makes me wonder if Democrats actually want to reach a deal. If so, last week’s activity in the House certainly didn’t help their cause.

Instead of bringing up measures with clear support in both chambers, Speaker Pelosi opted to revisit the same misguided approach on display in May by bringing up a supposedly revamped and lighter version of the HEROES Act. Unfortunately, HEROES 2.0 still included many of the same radical and unrelated provisions that couldn’t pass on their own merit. Moreover, Republicans were entirely left out in crafting the legislation again. In fact, it was such a nonstarter that it passed by only seven votes, and 18 Democrats even voted against it this time. 

The time wasted last week on a partisan bill is particularly disappointing when so many areas of bipartisan agreement already exist. Indeed, there are plenty of items that could pass both chambers separately and immediately – including a simple extension of the Paycheck Protection Program for struggling small businesses and their workers, aid to help schools reopen, additional unemployment aid and a second round of stimulus rebate checks.

As discussions continue between Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week, I remain hopeful for a breakthrough and that a bipartisan deal can still be reached – one that both chambers of Congress will pass and the president will sign. Indeed, it’s important for the American people that we do find agreement, and I remain ready to support such a measure.

Cole Opposes Speaker Pelosi’s HEROES Act 2.0

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), Vice Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement after he voted against the Senate Amendments to H.R. 925, a coronavirus “relief” bill written solely by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats. 

“Unfortunately, not a lot has changed since May, when Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats also peddled legislation focused more on securing radical policy items than delivering needed coronavirus relief. Crafted behind closed doors and without any Republican input whatsoever, again, their partisan ‘HEROES Act 2.0’ is also destined for nowhere. It will not pass the Republican-led Senate, and it will not be signed into law by President Trump. That is an unfair result for the American people, who are struggling and desperately need additional relief. They have for months. 

“The endless stalling and ongoing refusal of Speaker Pelosi to seriously negotiate something real with the Trump Administration is particularly disappointing when so many areas of bipartisan agreement already exist. Indeed, there are plenty of items that could pass both chambers separately and immediately, including a simple extension of the Paycheck Protection Program for struggling small businesses and their workers. Though Speaker Pelosi thinks we have to agree on everything before we can agree on anything, the fact is that we could be getting relief out the door right now. While we work out our difference on other matters, that’s exactly what we should be doing.”

During rule debate for the legislation on the House floor yesterday, Cole made remarks in opposition. Transcript is available here and video here

Cole Remembers September 11, 2001

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Norman, OK – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) remembered the tragedy of September 11, 2001, when planes were hijacked by terrorists and crashed into the World Trade Centers in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and in a field near Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania.

“It is hard to believe nineteen years have passed since the despicable terrorist attacks that senselessly claimed precious lives and sought to shatter our sense of safety and security,” said Cole. “Our nation will forever mourn the Americans whose lives were prematurely and viciously taken on September 11, 2001, and we will always remember the numerous heroes who arose in the aftermath of the crisis.

“Though our nation was shaken and heartbroken, we were not destroyed and we were not intimidated. Indeed, Americans quickly proved the power of our strength, resilience and resolve. We showed the world that, even on one of our darkest days, we will always unite and always prevail. Certainly, it is that same American spirit that will help see us through this coronavirus crisis as well.”

Vaccines Save Lives

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The month of August marks National Immunization Awareness Month, which is a very timely subject considering the unprecedented circumstances we are facing in the world right now. For decades, communities around the globe have relied on vaccinations and immunizations to protect us from dangerous, deadly diseases. This month, it is important to remember that vaccines not only protect you, they also protect at-risk individuals around you and ultimately save lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccines and immunizations prove to be one of the most cost-effective, life-saving treatments for diseases. In fact, as reported by the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC), the United States each year spends an astonishing $26.5 billion treating four major vaccine preventable diseases: influenza, pneumococcal, shingles and pertussis. Before the coronavirus pandemic, AVAC also noted that, over 20 years, vaccines would prevent 732,000 deaths and 21 million hospitalizations.

As the former Chairman and current Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), I have always supported incremental funding increases for the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Gradual base increases go toward support of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, which facilitates increasing vaccination rates for over a dozen vaccine-preventable diseases, as well as vaccinations for at-risk populations. It also strengthens state public health infrastructure and increases disease surveillance efforts.

To slow the spread of coronavirus, the development of a vaccine to treat COVID-19 is crucial, and I am proud this is being taken seriously in our country. This spring, the NIH formed a public-private partnership called Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) to coordinate and prioritize research efforts into the most promising therapeutics and vaccines. Moreover, HHS has invested more than $7 billion into facilitating research and development for more than five vaccine candidates by leading pharmaceutical companies.

In mid-May, President Trump initiated Operation Warp Speed, a partnership with HHS, the Department of Defense and private pharmaceutical companies to ensure the United States is the first nation in the world to develop and deploy a coronavirus vaccine. This operation seeks to quickly produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines nationwide by January 2021. It’s worth noting that Operation Warp Speed has resulted in the pre-purchase of hundreds of millions of doses should vaccine candidates prove successful.

Throughout the course of history, vaccines have proven to prevent diseases and serious illnesses, and the coronavirus pandemic proves no different. Although this process doesn’t happen overnight, we have certainly made the investments and have the resources to develop and administer a coronavirus vaccine once discovered. However, this pandemic also reaffirms the importance of investing in pandemic programs to ensure we can develop, test and stockpile immunizations for the next generation.

Cole Statement on Honoring John Lewis at U.S. Capitol

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) issued the following statement after he paid tribute to Congressman John Lewis, who recently passed away and is lying in state at the U.S. Capitol.  

“Today, I joined my fellow members of Congress in paying my respects to our beloved colleague, John Lewis, upon his final trip to the U.S. Capitol. It was a very moving ceremony that rightly recognized John’s many years of distinguished service and his significant contributions to our country, including his unmatched leadership role in the continual struggle for civil rights. I will always have the utmost admiration for John Lewis, and I am exceedingly grateful that I had the opportunity to serve with him for many years and call him my friend. While the nation mourns and pays tribute on this very sad day, we should also find great comfort as we remember the incredible legacy he leaves behind. Indeed, that legacy will live on for generations to come.”

Resilience Amid Crisis​

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This year, Independence Day comes at a time of great crisis and unrest for our country. But while the events of our day are troubling, remember that our nation was first born out of and found its footing in crisis. Throughout our great history spanning nearly 245 years, Americans have continually overcome even the most difficult challenges. That’s because Americans always rise to the occasion, proving our nation’s great strength. Certainly, that enduring strength and unbeatable resilience is alive as we navigate this season of crisis as well.

While the battle against coronavirus is far from over, it is encouraging to see the economy beginning to bounce back and Americans safely getting back to work. Moreover, rapid progress continues in development of effective therapeutics and discovery of a vaccine. And though any life lost to COVID-19 is too many, the declining death rate should lend hope that we’re getting better at treating the disease – as scientists and researchers race to find a life-saving vaccine.

In addition to the coronavirus crisis, the nation is also facing a difficult reckoning related to racial injustice following the tragic death of George Floyd. This has rightly spurred on an important dialogue and caused an outcry for change echoing far and wide. While there are differences in opinion on the needed solutions, it’s worth recognizing the goal is the same – and that is to make our communities safer for all, regardless of color or creed. While I am disappointed that we haven’t made much bipartisan progress on this issue yet, I am encouraged that serious legislative proposals have been put forward in both chambers of Congress. Moreover, President Trump issued an executive order to encourage meaningful policing reforms.

As we confront the difficulties and seek to reconcile divisions before us, remember that there is far more that unites us than divides us. On the Fourth of July, as we celebrate our precious freedoms secured at a great price, may we also remember the lasting legacy of our inherited American strength. For even amid the direst circumstances, we still live in the greatest and most resilient nation on earth.

Tom Cole Wins Oklahoma’s Fourth District Republican Primary

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Moore, OK – Tom Cole released the following statement upon winning the June 30th primary election:

“I thank the Republican voters of the Fourth District for once again nominating me to represent them as their candidate for Congress in the November general election. It is an honor and a privilege to represent the Fourth District of Oklahoma and fight for our shared values and interests in the House of Representatives. I look forward to making my case for re-election to the entire electorate in the fall campaign.

“I am proud of my record of significant accomplishments in Congress. Working in a bipartisan and bicameral fashion, I have helped to deliver the largest pay raise to our men and women in uniform in a decade, expand missions at Fort Sill and Tinker Air Force Base, deliver much needed assistance to families and businesses during the Coronavirus crisis and save an estimated 50 million jobs through the Paycheck Protection Program. I have also been a leader in securing funds for biomedical research to find cures and treatments for deadly diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and pandemic flu. And I have established a reputation for being a strong advocate for the interests of veterans, federal workers, agriculture, energy and Native American nations and tribal governments. 

“I look forward to keeping in touch with the constituents I am privileged to represent in the coming months, discussing my record of results and my plans for tackling the important work that lies ahead.”

Cole Announces Congressional App Challenge for OK-04

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Moore, OK – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) today encouraged middle school and high school students in the Fourth District of Oklahoma to participate in this year’s Congressional App Challenge. This annual competition is designed to promote innovation, engagement and excellence in computer science through student development of an application (“app”).

“The Congressional App Challenge is a fantastic way for students to explore and sharpen their coding and computer-based skills, which could prepare them for potential careers in STEM fields. As this unique challenge gets underway, I look forward to seeing the ideas and creativity of Fourth District students.”

While participating students are encouraged to register online by September 10, the final deadline for entries is 12:00 p.m. on October 19, 2020. Fourth District entries will be judged and selected by a local panel of relevant experts.

The submissions portal is now open and students can register to participate at www.congressionalappchallenge.us. Questions can be directed toStudentSupport@CongressionalAppChallenge.us or by calling Cole’s office at 405-329-6500.

Background on the Congressional App Challenge

Launched by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2015, this national contest invites students to create an application (“app”) for desktop/PC, web, tablet, mobile, raspberry Pi or other devices using any programming language – such as C, C++, Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby or “block code.” The competition is open to all students who meet the eligibility requirements, regardless of their coding experience. Winning apps from congressional districts across the country are eligible for display in the U.S. Capitol and featured on the House of Representatives’ website at House.gov

More information is available at www.congressionalappchallenge.us.

Cole Congratulates 2020 Service Academy Appointees

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) this week congratulated nine students who received and accepted appointments to attend one of the United States military service academies. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy all require a congressional nomination to be considered for appointment. Cole previously nominated these students for appointment consideration in December.

“I am very proud to congratulate and extend my best wishes to nine phenomenal Fourth District students, who have accepted appointments to attend one of America’s prestigious military service academies,” said Cole. “These exceptional young leaders could pursue numerous career paths, yet they nobly and selflessly chose to answer the call to serve our nation with their talents and intelligence. I was honored to play a small part in their journey by nominating each of them for potential appointment. As they embark on a new chapter in their lives this fall, I know they will continue to make their families, communities and our state incredibly proud.”

The students from the Fourth District of Oklahoma who received and accepted appointments are listed below:

U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Heyward Hutson, Cache – Cache High School

Joseph Kelly, Lawton – Eisenhower High School

Bryson Stricker, Ardmore – Plainview High School

U.S. Naval Academy

Kirby Snow, Sulphur – Sulphur High School

Trace Stewart, Marietta – Marietta High School

Brody Sturges, Noble – Noble High School

U.S. Air Force Academy

Dalton Carson, Ada – Ada High School

Sydney Gunter, Lawton – MacArthur High School

Samuel Jun, Oklahoma City – Casady School*

*Note: Samuel Jun was also offered an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Cole Announces Reelection Campaign

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Moore, OK – Tom Cole formally announced today that he will seek reelection to represent the Fourth District of Oklahoma in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We are living in unprecedented times, and together, we are travelling uncharted waters. But America has seen and conquered greater challenges, and I know that we will win this battle as well,” stated Cole.  “From those on the front lines, to those doing their part by staying at home, Americans and Oklahomans will band together and see this through.

“Today’s challenges require strong and unwavering leadership that is always looking forward and preparing,” said Cole. “In representing the people of the Fourth District, I have proudly fought to protect and advance commonsense conservative values while also ensuring that we are investing in the future and are ready to face challenges, both foreign and domestic, and both man-made and natural.

“Prioritizing funding for biomedical disease research and readiness is one of the most important investments we can make in our collective future. Over the last five years, I have proudly championed and helped secure historic increases for the National Institutes of Health. In the last couple of years and long before the world heard of COVID-19, I was proud to lead the effort to establish the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund – an emergency fund that I proposed to immediately respond to dangerous infectious diseases like Ebola, Zika and COVID-19. Certainly, when we prioritize the public health, we can be better prepared for the future – and healthier and safer for it.

“In recent days and in response to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and its spread in the United States, I was proud to stand with the Trump Administration in supporting aid to help Americans weather the storm. This includes more resources for state and local governments, tribal governments, small business owners, front-line health care workers and hardworking Americans to fight this disease.

“While our focus is rightfully on the pandemic, we cannot rest on other areas of preparedness. Whether it is responding to national security threats at home or abroad, there is no doubt that our military is in a stronger place today than it was just a few years ago. Along with President Trump, I was proud to help deliver the largest pay increase to our military men and women in a decade, increased funding for invaluable missions at Fort Sill Army Post and Tinker Air Force Base and continued support for the modernization of our military.

“While I am proud of my record, there is still important work ahead,” continued Cole. “I am running for re-election to build on the significant strides taken and to usher in solutions that help Americans and our economy recover from the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, further support and strengthen our military’s readiness and capabilities, and help set future generations on firm financial footing.

“It is a great honor to represent the people of the Fourth District. I look forward to being of service, earning the vote over the coming months and continuing to fight for our conservative ideals and principles.”