Since Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has announced his retirement after this year, there has been some topsy-turvy action as to who from the Republican Party will run to take his place. Representative James Lankford (Okla. – District 5) has already announced that he will run for Coburn’s vacant seat. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (Okla. – District 1) has stated that he is considering it. Representative Tom Cole (Okla. - District 4) has stated that he will not run for the senate. Representatives Frank Lucas (Okla. – District 3) and Markwayne Mullin (Okla. – District 2) have not stated any interest in running for the senate. Bridenstine, Cole, Lucas, and Mullin are up for re-election to the House of Representatives this November. This article will analyze these Congressmen’s voting records to provide information to voters. Information for this article was found at www.thenewamerican.com under the Freedom Index.
When debating the defense authorization bill (H.R. 1960), an amendment to the bill was proposed that would eliminate indefinite military detention of persons detained in the United States, U.S. territories, or U.S. possessions. The amendment was proposed by Rep. Adam Smith (D – Wash.) It would require detainees to be transferred to civilian court and repeal the provision of the 2012 NDAA that requires mandatory military custody of al-Qaeda members and associates. The amendment was rejected on July 24,2013. This amendment violates the right of habeas corpus and a warrant to be issued based on probable cause as outlined in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. It also violates the right to a speedy trial as defined by the Sixth Amendment. It gives the chief executive power to have any citizen declared as an enemy combatant and held indefinitely without trial. The entire Oklahoma delegation voted against this amendment.
The Farm Bill (H.R. 1947) authorizes $939 billion in spending through fiscal year 2018 for farm aid, food stamps, and rural development. It would allow states to drug test food stamp applicants. This bill was voted down on June 20, 2013. This bill authorizes nearly $1 trillion in unconstitutional spending. Federal spending on farms and food development is not authorized by Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Prices in the market are distorted because of subsidies, and food stamp programs have not ended poverty. Representatives Cole, Lankford, Lucas, and Mullin voted in favor of this bill. Representative Bridenstine voted against it.
The Offshore Energy and Jobs Act (H.R. 2231) would allow for energy exploration and production on the Outer-Continental Shelf. It provides for revenue sharing for coastal states. It would also lease areas off of South Carolina and Southern California for hydrocarbon exploration. This bill passed the House on June 28, 2013. Energy exploration helps economic growth. The entire Oklahoma delegation voted in favor of this bill.
During debate on the defense appropriations bill (H.R. 2397) an amendment was proposed to defund the purchase of 30 Russian helicopters to give to the Afghanistan military. The amendment was proposed by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.). This amendment was proposed in response to the June 13 award of a $553.8 million contract to a Russian-state owned arms export firm to purchase the helicopters without authorization from Congress. This firm also supplies arms to Iran and Syria. The amendment was adopted on July 23, 2013. The government should not use tax payer money to purchase these helicopters to give away to another country. The defense department exceeded the powers granted to the executive branch in Article II of the Constitution. Representatives Cole, Lankford, Lucas voted in favor of the amendment. Representative Mullin voted against it.
Another amendment to the defense appropriations bill (H.R. 2397) was proposed to prohibit funds from being used for military exercises with the military of the People’s Republic of China. The amendment was proposed by Representative Steve Stockman (R-Tex.). The amendment was rejected by the House. The U.S. military participated with the People’s Republic of China in military exercises on U.S. naval ships and on U.S. soil. China is a self-proclaimed enemy of the United States. Their human rights record is deplorable. The Chinese government has recently threatened to target and destroy U.S. cities with nuclear ICBMs. This action equates to aid and comfort to the enemy which is treasonous as defined in the U.S. Constitution. Representatives Cole, Lankford, and Lucas voted against the amendment. Representatives Bridenstine and Mullin voted for it.
Still another amendment to the defense appropriations bill (H.R. 2397) was proposed to defund all military actions after December 31, 2014. The amendment was proposed by Rep. Adam Schiff (D – Calif.) The Authorization for Military Force in 2001 (AUMF) was not intended to be an unending war. The threats to the United States and the mission of the military are not clearly defined. This amendment would give Congress the opportunity to define the mission and the enemy more clearly before the end of this year. The amendment was defeated on July 24, 2013. The status quo is that Congress has seeded its power to declare war to the chief executive which is unconstitutional. The entire Oklahoma delegation voted against this amendment.
Yet another amendment to the defense appropriations bill (H.R. 2397) was proposed to end the blanket collection of records by various government agencies, including the NSA, under the Patriot Act. The amendment was proposed by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) The amendment would prevent the government from collecting records from persons who are not subject to a government investigation. The House rejected the amendment on July 24, 2013. The collection of personal records from people who are not under investigation is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Representatives Cole, Lankford, and Lucas voted against the amendment. Representatives Bridenstine and Mullin voted for it.
Congressional Approval of Federal Regulations (H.R. 367) would require government agencies to get approval from Congress before enacting “major rules.” These rules are defined as actions that would cost over $50 million or rules that would have a negative effect on the nation’s economy. This bill passed the House on August 2, 2013. The bill is designed to reign in the executive branch from instituting more unconstitutional regulations and spending. The regulations written by executive agencies are the equivalent of laws which are not part of the executive powers outlined in Article II of the Constitution. The entire Oklahoma delegation voted in favor of this bill.
The continuing resolution that would have defunded the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (H.J.R. 59) would fund the entire government from October 1 through December 15, 2013 except for the ACA. Democrats in the House and Senate opposed this bill which caused a partial shutdown of the government for 16 days. The bill passed the House on September 20, 2013. The entire Oklahoma delegation voted in favor of this version of the continuing resolution.
A motion to concur with the Senate on the amended continuing resolution (H.R. 2275) that would fund the entire government including the ACA was made on October 16, 2013. The motion was made by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) The only concession made by Senate democrats was that income must be verified before individuals could receive subsidies for purchasing health insurance. It also suspended the debt limit through February 7, 2014 and funded the government through January 15, 2014. The spending cuts from sequestration were also left out. The House approved the motion. Representatives Bridenstine, Lankford, Lucas, and Mullin voted against the motion. Representative Cole voted for it.
The Oklahoma congressional delegation, except for Rep. Bridenstine, seems to hold much of the Constitution in contempt. They voted to continue violating the Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights of persons being detained as “terrorists.” They also seem to want to continue fighting a war on terror that our military is not allowed to win. They are in favor of developing an energy policy that would make the nation more energy independent, and they want to check the executive branch to be sure they are not writing law disguised as federal regulations. This information can be used to discern how our representatives will vote in the future.