2019-10-27 06:00:00

Even as the Donald Trump impeachment investigation threatens to consume every bit of air and energy in Washington, most members of Congress continue plugging away at regular business.

First District Congressman Kevin Hern celebrated passage of his first bill, H.R. 4407, which reforms a small-business mentoring program.

The bill is not controversial and passed 389-8, but Hern said it was significant for him to get something through the House as a first-term member of the minority party.

“It’s no coincidence that my first bill to pass the House focuses on our small-business owners,” Hern said. “Entrepreneurship should be encouraged at every level — this is what drives our local economies and strengthens our communities. I’m grateful for the bipartisan support this legislation garnered, proof that this Congress is capable of coming together to do work that matters to the American people.”

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is battening down the hatches to try and save a defense bill stuck in conference committee.

“We’re running out of time,” Inhofe said in a written statement. “To keep all options on the table, next week I intend to introduce a ‘skinny’ defense bill to ensure that Congress is able to extend necessary authorities, take care of our troops and their families, authorize military construction projects, and conduct oversight over military acquisition programs.

“A skinny bill is not a substitute for a full bill, but it might be a necessary next step if we don’t reach an agreement soon,” Inhofe said. “We’re not giving up. We’ve passed this bill for 58 years running because it is our constitutional duty, and we’re going to do it again this year.”

Inhofe also continued his long campaigns to advance improvements on the Tulsa-area levee system and to deepen the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System to its terminus at the Port of Catoosa.

During a hearing, Inhofe solicited a promise from the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, to complete a feasibility study on the levees.

Semonite was less definitive about MKARNS.

“I used to consider it may be a boondoggle but it was our boondoggle and it worked,” Inhofe said.

Sen. James Lankford chaired a hearing on regulatory rule-making, which he hopes to make more responsive to public comment.

Inhofe and Lankford both voted against a Democrat effort to lift the $10,000 cap on federal income-tax deductions for state and local taxes.

In the House, 3rd District Congressman Frank Lucas asked Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who wants to launch his own online currency, why people should trust him instead of their local banks.

Lucas also co-sponsored a bill to help livestock owners better understand risk management.

Fifth District Congresswoman Kendra Horn, one of a dwindling number of Democrats not to endorse Trump’s impeachment, chaired a hearing on space and weather technology and signed on to a bipartisan bill to sharply limit foreign ownership of companies that supply voting machines and other election equipment and services.

That said: Some members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation did expend time and energy defending President Donald Trump.

While Representatives Kevin Hern and Markwayne Mullin were among a group of Republicans who pushed their way into a closed committee meeting related to the impeachment investigation, Lankford signed onto a Senate resolution condemning House Democrats’ handling of the matter.

Some observers, though, said the House is following rules passed by the Republican majority in 2015 when it investigated Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, and the deaths of U.S. personnel in Benghazi, Libya, and that closed hearings were also conducted during investigations that led to impeachment proceedings against presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Dots and dashes: Inhofe complained to The Hill about fellow Republican Mitt Romney’s sniping at President Donald Trump. “Because one election didn’t turn out the way that Mitt wanted it to turn out, he’s critical of the president.” Inhofe said, apparently referring to Romney’s defeat in the 2012 presidential election. … Fourth District Congressman Tom Cole panned an election security bill hastily passed by the Democrat-controlled House, saying “It’s not going to be picked up by the Senate, it’s not going to be signed by the president.” … Lankford issued a statement on the anniversary of Washington’s school choice law, written by Congress, which includes charter and private school voucher provisions. … Inhofe was one of seven Republicans on the record as unequivocally opposed to Trump’s impeachment, the conservative website “The Daily Caller” reported at midweek. … Lankford attended a Heritage Foundation “honors” gala featuring Vice President Mike Pence.

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