Bridenstine says being a D.C. newcomer serves him and his staff well
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
2/19/13 at 5:49 AM
Even by the standards of congressional newcomers, U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine's staff is on the green side.
His chief of staff, Joe Kaufman, is retired from Phillips Petroleum Co. Only two of his 14 employees in Washington, D.C., and Tulsa have any experience in federal government.
Bridenstine says he wanted it that way.
"It gives me more flexibility," he said Monday. "I'm able to vote the way I want to vote without an inside-the-beltway person telling me what they think I should do."
Undeniably, Bridenstine has done that. His first six weeks in office have marked him as something of a maverick in his own party whose first vote was against a sitting speaker of the House.
He may soon have another round of difficult votes. With the program of automatic spending cuts called sequestration set to kick in March 1, and much screaming and gnashing of teeth likely to follow not long after, Bridenstine says he won't budge on tax increases and hopes Speaker John Boehner won't, either.
"Unless the president is willing to take tax increases off the table, sequestration is going to happen," he said. "Politically, it is just not a workable solution."
Bridenstine campaigned on cutting federal spending, but like just about everyone in Washington, D.C., he says sequestration is not the way to do it.
"It will be an absolute disaster," he said.
But not, apparently, as much of a disaster as giving in on tax increases. When asked if sequestration might actually break the budget deadlock once it goes into effect, Bridenstine said: "I don't know. I can tell you Republicans aren't coming to the table with more tax increases in the discussion.
"You will probably get me in trouble with Speaker Boehner again," Bridenstine told a reporter, "but the question is whether (Boehner) will allow a vote on the floor on something with tax increases in it."
Bridenstine said the $42.5 billion in military cuts will hit Oklahoma particularly hard, but he said he has not heard from anyone in favor of a deficit-reduction deal that includes tax increases.
"From what I've heard, nobody wants tax increases," he said. "If there is someone, they're not calling my office.
"But we might get that once people start getting furloughed."
Bridenstine said he is confident that no significant gun control legislation will be forthcoming this session and that although immigration reform is a possibility, he still thinks border security is the most important element of the proposal.
"Republicans, now more than ever, are looking for a solution, and it starts with border security," he said.
Town hall meetings
U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine has two town hall meetings scheduled this week. Both are at 6:30 p.m.
Original Print Headline: Bridenstine: Being a newcomer serves him, his staff well
- Tuesday: Bixby Public Library, 20 E. Breckenridge Ave.
- Thursday: Tyler Memorial Library, 821 N. Shawnee Ave., Dewey.
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine: He says Republicans won't be coming to the budget bargaining table if tax increases are part of the discussion. He also says he doubts whether any meaningful gun control legislation comes out of this session.