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Oklahoma's U.S. House members split on spending bill

In the cliff-hanger vote late Thursday night to fund most of the government through September, three of Oklahoma’s House members backed the Republican bill and two opposed it.

The bill passed 219-206 and is now before the Senate.

Voting for it were Reps. Tom Cole, R-Moore; Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne; and Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville.

Opposed were Reps. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa; and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City.

Cole, a leader on the committee that drafted the bill, said, the bill was a common-sense compromise that reflected conservative values and avoided another government shutdown.

“Of great importance to the Fourth District of Oklahoma, the omnibus prevents the Administration's recommended deactivation of seven AWACS stationed at Tinker Air Force Base _ a move that would significantly impact the readiness and ability of our Armed Forces to combat current and future conflicts,’ Cole said.

“It also addresses critical readiness gaps for aircraft depot maintenance caused by sequestration and repeated resource cuts by diverting funds from lower priority items.

"The omnibus also addresses the need to maintain our national security by dealing with very real threats, including funds to help with the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and combat the growing terrorist threat posed by ISIL in the Middle East.

Bridenstine said, “My primary concern was to block any funds to implement the President's unilateral amnesty plan announced on November 20th.

“The recent election clearly revealed that the American people overwhelmingly oppose any attempt by the Administration to go around Congress and unconstitutionally implement immigration reforms. The president's actions blatantly rebuffed the will of the people.

“The omnibus bill did not block the president's unconstitutional action, so 67 Members of the House, including myself, cosponsored an amendment to block funding, but the amendment was not allowed. In addition to allowing the president to proceed with his unconstitutional amnesty plan, the bill fully funded another year of Obamacare.”

Mullin said the positives of the bill outweighed the negatives. He said the positives included:

_ A $60 million budget cut to the Environment Protection Agency:

_ A $345.6 million budget cut to the Internal Revenue Service

_ $133 million in cuts to the Department of Education and elimination of the president’s Race to the Top initiative

_ Funding of the Department of Homeland Security only until February 2015 when Republicans will control both house of Congress and can address the president’s executive orders on immigration.

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›