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Rep. Cole Predicts 'Very Strong Majority' Will Approve Budget Deal In House

A compromise deal to stop broad spending cuts and tax increases is headed to the House of Representatives, after receiving strong support in the Senate. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., talks with Steve Inskeep about a possible House vote on the "fiscal cliff" deal.

Cole, the House deputy majority whip who also serves on the Appropriations Committee, says he expects the House to approve the Senate bill, calling it "a pretty big win."

While a formal count of likely votes hasn't been taken yet, Cole says, "You have to remember, obviously the Democrats will be bringing a considerable number of votes to the table as well, because it is an agreement between the two parties. So, I really don't anticipate too much of a problem."

Interview Highlights

On Whether The Compromise Is A Good Deal

"Yes it is. You know, from a standpoint of the America people, it gives them tax certainty. It protects almost every single American from a major tax increase. Like every other deal, people could quibble with individual items, but I think given the alternatives, this is not only an excellent deal — it is something, honestly, Republicans can be pleased with."

"It's a compromise on both sides, and I don't think it's going to have a difficult time getting passed."

On The Bill's Tax Cuts, And Republican Support

"It makes 80-plus, close to 90 percent of the Bush tax cuts permanent, for 98-plus percent of the American people. That's something we couldn't do when George Bush was president, and we had both houses of Congress."

"The alternative, of course, would be a tax increase on everyone. So, I don't see why in the world most Republicans wouldn't vote for this. I think we'll get a very strong majority."

On Looming Budget Issues And Spending Cuts

"Republicans have argued all along, this is a spending problem. This is something that's going to take spending cuts and take entitlement reform. I think those things are clearly on the table. And honestly, from a Republican standpoint, you're in a much stronger position now, because the tax issue is off the table. It's basically been settled."

On The Federal Debt Limit

"Just willy-nilly raising the debt limit, when you're running trillion-dollar deficits — and we've done that for four consecutive years — that, I think, is the irresponsible thing. You've got to force the country to the table — the Democrats to the table — in terms of, what are the tough decisions we're going to make on spending?"

On Defense Spending

"We've already cut defense spending by about half a trillion dollars, over the next decade. There are literally going to be 75,000 fewer soldiers, 20,000 fewer Marines, within five years. So, we've already had a round of cuts. I think more cuts would be irresponsible."

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