Second District Congressman Markwayne Mullin was among Republicans trying to stop several House energy bills and to push out counter measures of their own.

Mullin, co-chairman of the House Energy Action Team — HEAT — was among the authors of the GOP leadership’s American Energy First Act, described as “an all-of-the-above” bill that would expand energy production on federal lands and streamline the federal permitting process.

Mullin and the others are trying to sideline legislation that would stop or curtail offshore and Arctic oil and gas drilling.

One of the measures, which would ban drilling off the Florida coasts, is backed by former Tulsan Francis Rooney, now a Republican representative from Florida.

“I think this is an important opportunity for the Republican Party to show young people, soccer moms like George Bush‘s old coalition, university people that the Republican Party can do other things than just scream about guns,” Rooney said.

All three bills passed the House, with Oklahoma’s lone Democrat, the 5th District’s Kendra Horn, voting for all three. Oklahoma’s four Republicans all voted against the measures.

WOTUS: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe was predictably excited by the final repeal of the Obama administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule.

“Today’s action to finally end the rule continues to prove how the Trump Administration and the EPA understand the needs of farmers and rural Americans,” Inhofe said in a statement. “I look forward to the new rule, which clearly defines what constitutes WOTUS, ensures our waterways are protected and returns the federal government to its proper role.”

Inhofe had fought the rule, announced in 2015, which could have given the federal government broader control of U.S. watersheds. Farmers and businesses feared this would lead to unreasonable restrictions on land and water use.

The rule’s final repeal was engineered by Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler, a former Inhofe aide.

Violence against native women: Oklahoma Congressmen Markwayne Mullin and Tom Cole signed on to legislation to protect American Indian women against violence.

“The silent crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women is wreaking havoc on our families and our communities,” Mullin said in a press release. “All parties have to work together to fight back against this epidemic of violence.”

Statistically, American Indian women are more likely to be victims of abuse, violence and trafficking, in part because of gaps in the law enforcement system.

Cole, speaking at a rally to raise awareness of the issue, said predators seek out native women because they know the chances of prosecution are lower.

“Hunters know where to hunt, fishers know where to fish and predators know where to prey,” Cole said, according to Cronkite News.

Grand Lake: Three U.S. representatives from other states interceded in the dispute between the city of Miami and U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe over pending legislation regarding the Grand River Dam Authority.

In a letter, Democrats Frank Pallone of Oregon, Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Peter DeFazio of Oregon asked House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith of Washington to remove a section of the National Defense Authorization Act inserted by Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Inhofe and the GRDA say the section clarifies who is responsible for operation of the Pensacola Dam, which forms Grand Lake, in flood conditions.

The city of Miami contends the measure will make its efforts to modify the dam’s operation more difficult.

The city says the dam’s operation causes water to back up into Ottawa County and intensify flooding. The GRDA denies current operations have any affect on flooding in the Miami area or that the proposed law will hamper the city’s attempts to force Grand Lake to lower its target elevations.

Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which licenses the GRDA to operate Pensacola Dam, extended the current license 38 months, to May 31, 2025, primarily to allow for the completion of tests and studies requested by Miami and others.

VA spending: U.S. Sen. James Lankford joined two Democrats in asking the Government Accountability Office to review Veterans Administration contracting practices.

Lankford, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jon Tester of Montana made the request after the GAO tagged the VA’s acquisition management for potential waste and fraud.

In their letter to the GAO, the three noted the VA is initiating several large projects that require extensive contracting, including expansion of a program that allows veterans to be attended by private providers.

“About a third of VA’s discretionary budget in fiscal year 2018, approximately $27 billion, has been used to contract for goods and services,” the three senators wrote. “The wide range of goods and services that VA procures ... is essential to meeting its mission to provide health care and other benefits to our nation’s veterans and their families. However ... GAO and others have continued to find shortcomings in VA’s ability to manage its acquisition programs.”

Dots and dashes: U.S. Sen. James Lankford appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to promote his legislation to prevent future shutdowns. ... Fifth District Congresswoman Kendra Horn was among a group of Democrats asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a quick vote on the new North American free trade agreement, the USMCA. ... Third District Congressman Frank Lucas also called for passage of the USMCA, which most Oklahoma observers say would benefit the state. ... Fourth District Congressman Tom Cole co-sponsored a bill to improve rural access to obstetric care. ... Lankford was among Republicans opposed to an amendment in the defense spending bill limiting U.S. arms shipments that could be used in Yemen’s civil war. The amendment passed the GOP-led appropriations committee, however, as did the spending bill itself.


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Randy has been with the Tulsa World since 1979. He is a native of Hinton, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. Krehbiel primarily covers government and politics. Phone: 918-581-8365

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