- Ada, Oklahoma

December 13, 2013

Lawmakers react to budget deal

Eric Swanson Staff Writer

Ada — An Oklahoma lawmaker said he will support a budget deal aimed at easing the pain of automatic spending cuts but other members of the state’s congressional delegation had mixed reviews for the proposal.

The deal proves that lawmakers can find budget reforms that boost the national economy, reduce the federal deficit and provide a better future for Americans, said Rep. Tom Cole, a Moore Republican who served on a bipartisan committee assigned to draw up a budget plan.

“Hardworking American families desperately want their government to stop budgeting by short-term, continuing resolutions or refusing to talk at all,” he said in a news release. “When I remember the pain caused by the recent shutdown, I am encouraged that this conference was able to reach a deal that finds real savings, eases sequester and brings down the deficit.”

The proposal was set for a vote Thursday.

Earlier this week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray announced a proposal that could temporarily halt budget standoffs in Washington, according to the Associated Press. The measure could also soften the blow from a round of budget cuts known as the sequester and prevent another shutdown, like the partial shutdown that temporarily paralyzed the government this fall.

The budget pact would ease $63 billion in scheduled spending cuts over the next two years and replace them with longer-term savings over 10 years, many of which won’t accumulate until 2022-23, the AP reported. Deficits would rise by $23.2 billion in 2014 and by $18.2 billion the following year, but then they would begin to shrink.

The AP said the deal would put Washington on a path to prevent cuts to military preparedness and weapons, as well as continued cuts to programs including health research and school aid. The cuts would be offset by money from higher airline security fees, limits on pension benefits for new federal workers and working-age military retirees and other measures.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was still reviewing the proposal. He complained that negotiators sought savings by targeting retired soldiers instead of reducing spending on entitlement programs.

“Our nation’s entitlement programs are ballooning, but instead of addressing this desperate need for reform, the deal would compromise a commission currently reviewing overall military compensation as tasked by the Armed Services Committee,” the Tulsa Republican said in a news release.

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.