Oklahoma’s U.S. senators split on the $1.7 trillion spending bill approved by the Senate on Thursday.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, in his last Senate vote before retirement, was among the 68 who voted for it.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford was among the 29 voting no.
“While this is not the package Republicans would have written on our own, the $45 billion increase for our troops will make our country more secure,” Inhofe said in a written statement.
“It gives our military the resources needed to take on China, Russia and other looming threats and takes care of our troops and their families. It includes a record number of Oklahoma priorities, which gives me some peace as I leave office.”
Inhofe issued a long list of items in the bill he said will benefit Oklahoma, including a total of $170 million for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System; $40 million for a new Tulsa International Airport control tower; $5 million for a cybersecurity project involving the University of Tulsa and the Army Corps of Engineers; support for the downtown Tulsa Veterans Affairs’ hospital; and $4 million for preliminary work in adding U.S. 412 to the interstate highway system.
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Lankford, meanwhile, said he voted against the 4,155-page bill because it is too big and spends too much money.
“When do Americans get to see in advance how Congress will spend their money?” Lankford asked in a written statement. “Once again, Washington, DC, treats Oklahomans’ tax dollars and the future of our economy like fake Monopoly money.
“My office had only hours to review a 4,155-page, almost $2 trillion bill to fund the government. This is no way to run the greatest nation in the world, especially since the bill includes record-high deficit spending.
“Americans deserve and expect a functioning government that lives within our means. I will keep pushing to solve this broken budget process and bring more people to the table to get this fixed.”
Lankford tried unsuccessfully to insert a religious exception clause into an amendment that requires employers to make “reasonable” workplace accommodations, including more frequent bathroom breaks or stools to sit on, for pregnant women. Both Lankford and Inhofe opposed the measure, apparently in the belief that it would require employers to give workers time off for abortions.
This year, as in most years, Congress wound up squeezing more than a dozen spending bills and other legislation into one huge, end-of-the-year omnibus package. Although a final version was not available until earlier this week, negotiations of the various parts have been ongoing for some time.
Even so, the process requires members of Congress to vote one time, yes or no, on hundreds of items, some of which they like and some of which they don’t.
The House may vote on the bill as soon as late Thursday and must pass the bill by the end of Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown.