Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a top Republican who sits on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees, on Friday morning signaled he was not on board with all of President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts in his budget blueprint.
The blueprint would slash funding for the National Institutes of Health and shift funding for the Centers for Disease Control to states, which Cole said would be a mistake.
“I don’t favor cutting NIH or Centers for Disease Control. You’re much more likely to die in a pandemic than a terrorist attack, and so that’s part of the defense of the country as well,” Cole said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
The Republican congressman said that the CDC protects Americans from diseases like Ebola and that the NIH does crucial research on cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease.
“So these in my view are cuts that are very short-sighted. These are investments the country ought to be making,” he said, adding that funding for health research is as important as defense spending.
Cole also indicated that Congress would not approve the deep cuts Trump proposed to the Environmental Protection Agency, though Cole said he had not studied that part of the budget blueprint closely.
“Almost half of the EPA’s budget frankly is grants for clean water and tribal grants, things of that nature. I think those are popular and pretty well-served,” Cole said. “The regulatory function, there’s no question they put things in there that are not particularly popular, and I don’t think particularly helpful. So we can look at it.”
“I think the EPA will get a haircut, but I doubt it will be quite as deep as this budget suggests,” Cole said.
The congressman said that he supported Trump’s pitch to boost military spending, but said that the administration needs to be willing to make cuts to programs like Medicare and Social Security.
“He does need to look at entitlement reform. That’s the only way you’ll ever balance the budget and actually begin to put the country on firm fiscal footing,” Cole said on MSNBC. “But Congress needs to have enough courage in its budget to lay out some of those reforms, and we’ll see whether or not it does. I suspect it will quite frankly.”