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Oklahoma leaders from both parties hail peaceful inauguration, urge cooperation

Oklahoma members of Congress congratulated President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday and hailed the peaceful transfer of power that occurred at the U.S. Capitol, which was stormed by rioters just two weeks earlier.

“Even amidst these unprecedented times, I am proud we are able to celebrate the inauguration of Joe Biden as president today,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, the dean of Oklahoma’s all-Republican congressional delegation.

“The peaceful transfer of power between U.S. presidents has been a hallmark of our democracy, for both American families at home and to all around the world, for more than two centuries.”

Inhofe and Sen. James Lankford and Reps. Tom Cole, of Moore, and Kevin Hern, of Tulsa, attended the outdoor ceremony, at which Oklahoma native Garth Brooks sang “Amazing Grace,” and Jennifer Lopez sang “This Land is Your Land,” by Oklahoma native Woody Guthrie.

“Although we live in extremely divided times and a highly polarized political environment, I am hopeful all Americans will choose to see Inauguration Day as an opportunity to unite and move ahead together toward healing,” Cole said.

“Indeed, in the coming days, all elected officials should set the example by working together across party lines for the good of all Americans.”

Rep. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, joined a letter to Biden signed by 17 House Republican freshmen, saying they were hopeful that, despite their ideological differences, they could work together.

“After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American," the letter says.

“The constituencies we represent showcase the variety of thought across our great nation. From Texas to California and from Oklahoma to New York, Americans are tired of the partisan gridlock and simply want to see leaders from both sides of the aisle work on issues important to American families, workers and businesses.”

In her first week in Congress, Bice voted to reject the electoral votes cast for Biden in Arizona and Pennsylvania, though she has maintained she was not trying to overturn the election.

Leaders of the Oklahoma Democratic Party cheered the inauguration of Biden and Harris and expressed confidence the new administration’s policies would draw more voters to their party, which lost more ground in the state during Trump’s presidency.

Asked about Biden’s condemnation of white supremacy in his speech on Wednesday, Alicia Andrews, the first African American chair of the state Democratic Party, said, “I am thrilled that we have a president who’s willing to deal with America’s first sin head on. Because you can’t deal with anything that you won’t admit exists. And the fact that he actually put it in his inauguration speech and spoke on it means that we have the opportunity to literally start working toward healing.”

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. said he watched the ceremony with his wife and daughter and was moved by the experience.

“I hope all people across the country will do their part to bring about a spirit of unity in the country and to reject hate and violence,” Hoskin said in a tweet.

Hern, who was sworn in this month to a second term, said, “Our nation has always valued the peaceful transfer of power.”

He said he and Biden would “likely more often disagree than agree on policy issues, but the fact that I did not vote for Joe Biden does not change the fact that we are now partners in the effort to forge a more perfect union.”

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he was “praying for America’s success under the Biden-Harris administration and look forward to working with them for the betterment of Oklahoma.”

And Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt tweeted that the Skydance Bridge would be lit up in red, white and blue in celebration and said, “Cities are the nation’s chief economic and cultural engines. I and all (U.S. mayors) stand ready to partner with this Administration as we work to serve our residents.”

Related Photos
<strong>Oklahoma native Garth Brooks sings 'Amazing Grace' as President Joe Biden listens during the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. [AP Photo]</strong>

Oklahoma native Garth Brooks sings 'Amazing Grace' as President Joe Biden listens during the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. [AP Photo]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-82ed8b60de0efc20f06163c833ab21e0.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma native Garth Brooks sings 'Amazing Grace' as President Joe Biden listens during the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. [AP Photo] " title=" Oklahoma native Garth Brooks sings 'Amazing Grace' as President Joe Biden listens during the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. [AP Photo] "><figcaption> Oklahoma native Garth Brooks sings 'Amazing Grace' as President Joe Biden listens during the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. [AP Photo] </figcaption></figure>
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 ›

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