Oklahoma’s two U.S. senators, James Lankford and Jim Inhofe, were not among the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats to limit President Donald Trump’s war powers in Iran.
“This resolution calls on the president to ‘terminate the use of United States Armed Forces for hostilities’ against Iran,” Inhofe said in a floor speech. “But there are no hostilities against Iran. There is no war with Iran. A resolution calling for the termination of hostilities against California would have the exact same effect.
“Practically speaking, this vote will do nothing. It’s nonsense. But we should be very concerned about the symbolic effect this vote will have,” Inhofe said. “This will send a very damaging signal to Iran. The Iranians will interpret a vote in favor of this resolution as tying the president’s hands. And that will lead Iran to believe, once again, that it can get away with anything.”
“The vote in the Senate today was not about declaring war or preventing a war with Iran, it was about the clear authority that any president of the United States has to defend the people of our nation from the threats of a declared terrorist organization,” Lankford said in a press release.
Democrats and some Republicans were upset that Trump ordered an airstrike against a top Iranian official without consulting congressional leaders. More generally, some members have sought to limit presidents’ ability to wage war, especially in the Middle East, without the consent of Congress.
Oklahoma history: Lankford made a lengthy floor presentation on more than a dozen black Oklahomans, including Tulsans Hannibal Johnson and Lester Shaw.
Much of the speech centered around Ada Sipuel Fisher, whose lawsuit desegregated the University of Oklahoma law school and was a precursor for Brown v. Board of Education.
“In our state ... February is not just another month,” Lankford said. “We understand what black history really means because we are living it with legacy leaders.”
Legacy continues: One Inhofe protege is poised to replace another as the chief of staff to a third former Inhofe aide who now heads the Environmental Protection Agency, the Washington Post reported.
Mandy Gunasekara, best known to the public for supplying Inhofe with a snowball on the floor of the Senate in 2015, will replace current chief of staff Ryan Jackson who is leaving EPA next week.
Jackson and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler previously worked for Inhofe. Jackson, Wheeler and Gunasekara also all worked for former EPA Administrator and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
Block grants: Fifth District Congresswoman Kendra Horn, the state’s only Democratic member of Congress, denounced the Medicaid block grant program Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt says he wants to mold into SoonerCare 2.0.
“The answer to solving our state’s health care crisis is straightforward: We must expand Medicaid,” Horn said during a brief floor speech. “By not expanding Medicaid, Oklahoma has lost out on $1 billion a year. ... Expanding Medicaid in Oklahoma would extend health insurance to 200,000 Oklahomans who do not currently have insurance. It’s the right choice for our state.”
Odds and ends: Horn was the only member of the Oklahoma delegation who voted to extend the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Congressmen Kevin Hern, Frank Lucas and Tom Cole opposed the measure, while 2nd District Congressman Markwayne Mullin did not vote. Cole was among the House sponsors of a measure that would qualify National Guard and Reserve service members for the same hazardous duty pay received by their regular Armed Services comrades. ... Inhofe was recognized for a perfect voting record as measured by the Family Research Council, the conservative advocacy organization run by Oklahoma native Tony Perkins.